'Whites only' agent fined, assistant fired

17 May 2018 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES

The Namibia Estate Agent Board (NEAB) has fined estate agent Holle Van Breda N$1 000 each for two contraventions of its code of conduct, after the posting a property advert which stipulated that only “Caucasians” or whites should apply.

The advert has sparked outrage across the country.

According to NEAB manager Festus Unengu, Van Breda will have to pay N$2 000 following Tuesday’s hearing, while her employer Sky Real Estate will be fined separately.

NEAB has also appealed to the prosecutor-general and ombudsman’s offices to look into Van Breda’s alleged violation of provisions of the Racial Discrimination Prohibition Act.

According to Unengu, who has a legal background, Van Breda has violated sections 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 16 of the Act.

However, he emphasised that in as much as the board condemns the estate agent and her agency, it does not have locus standi and cannot take the matter to court on behalf potential clients.

“The NEAB can only sanction estate agents in terms of our legislation and our regulations; we cannot go beyond that. Who can go beyond that is the prosecutor-general and the ombudsman,” he said

Unengu added he will implement a “sledge hammer and nut approach”, in order to make sure acts like these are never repeated.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Advocate John Walters said he will look into NEAB’s appeal once he receives it.

He said the biggest challenge in Namibia is that people want instant justice and the current legal framework does not provide sufficient protection of a person’s rights to equality and dignity, as well as equal access to Namibian courts.

According to Walters the only solution will be an equality court and a court environment that creates space for perpetrator and victim to tell their stories, so that systemic inequality, racism, hate speech and racial discrimination, which seems to have survived apartheid, can be eradicated.

“Even if I take up the matter it will be an exercise in futility; the Racial Prohibition Act is so watered down that there is very little one can do. I can only summon the person and ask them why they did what they did and ask them to apologise,” said Walters.

He added the huge backlog of criminal cases on the lower courts’ roll and the unending postponement of cases, often resulting in long delays, discourages victims of racism and racial discrimination from seeking justice in our courts.

Meanwhile, Sky Estate Agency issued a statement in which it apologised for the advertisement and announced it has dismissed Van Breda’s personal assistant.

“We as Sky Estates does not condone racism, we are at service to the whole nation, irrespective of nationality or colour. On behalf of Sky Estates and Holle van Breda we would like to sincerely apologise if we have offended anyone and there is no place in our beautiful Namibia for such a comment.”

Van Breda told Namibian Sun they want to put this incident behind them and move on.

“We have already put out a lot of declarations in the public and now through the media, as we were instructed by the NEAB,” said Van Breda.

She added that PA was subjected to a disciplinary hearing before his dismissal.

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