Woman accuses police of torture

A woman is suing the police and the government for alleged torture during questioning in connection with a robbery in 2017.

09 August 2019 | Justice

A Windhoek woman has filed a N$100 000 lawsuit against the government and the police line ministry for the trauma and shock she allegedly suffered when she was questioned in connection with a robbery.

Penehafo Naholo claims that she was unlawfully detained, electrocuted and beaten by police officers before being released without charge on 8 November 2017.

Naholo's lawsuit was filed in February this year by the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC).

According to her she was first taken to the Katutura police station and then transferred by four police officers to the Serious Crime Unit, where she was allegedly subjected to “unconventional methods of questioning” in regard to a robbery and the whereabouts of an alleged boyfriend.

“The officer/s then proceeded to step on [Naholo's] face seven consecutive times, and attached a metal instrument on her handcuffs which conducted electrical shocks through her body while continuing the physical assault on [Naholo], calling her a thief when she did not cry (sic),” the court documents read. After the beatings and electrocutions, her hands were re-cuffed in front of her body, she claims.

She was then “without any further questions and or explanations dropped off where the police officers initially picked her up.”

Her particulars of claim state that as a result of the questioning and assaults, she suffered injuries to her face and left hand.

“Naholo was arrested and detained without being informed of the reasons for her arrest and detention. She was released without being charged,” the court papers state.

The papers further argue that the police officers involved in her arrest and detention failed in their duty as officers of the law in several aspects.

Among the violations and failures on their part, was their failure to protect Naholo against any threat and attack on her bodily integrity, failure to protect her against insults or derogatory remarks, and failure to refrain from subjecting her to physical and emotional harm.

The police officers' conduct violated her constitutional right to human dignity, her legal team argues.

She is asking that the court award her damages of N$100 000 and the cost of the suit.

The safety and security ministry and the government of Namibia, as the defendants, have denied the claims, only admitting that Naholo was arrested and her phone confiscated and that four police officers were involved.

“The rest of the allegations are denied in totality and [Naholo] is put to proof thereof,” their plea states.

The defendants further plead that her arrest was lawful, and they deny she was taken to the Serious Crime Unit, stating that she was taken to the Windhoek police station.

They also deny that she was subjected to unconventional methods of questioning and that she was “lawfully handcuffed with her hands in front.” They are asking the court to dismiss the case with costs.

Sharen Zenda of the LAC is acting on behalf of Naholo, while the defendants are represented by government attorney Nelson Mutorwa.

High Court Judge Hannelie Prinsloo is presiding. The matter was postponed to 19 September.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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