News and Information

Caprivi assault claims settled
May 26, 2011


ANOTHER batch of damages claims against Government over the alleged torture and unlawful arrest and detention of people in the Caprivi Region in the wake of separatist attacks at Katima Mulilo in August 1999 have been settled out of court.

The Ministers of Home Affairs and Defence were being sued for a combined N$3,65 million in the six cases that have now been settled. The six cases were set to be heard in the High Court in Windhoek from Monday last week until the end of this week, but have been removed from the court roll as a result of the out-of-court settlements that were reached in the matters.

The terms of the settlements are being kept under wraps, but it is understood that the six plaintiffs will be receiving financial compensation from Government – although in vastly smaller amounts than they had claimed.

With the settlement of the six claims some 78 civil cases remain pending against Government in the High Court over alleged human rights abuses in the Caprivi Region after an armed insurrection in the region was suppressed in August 1999.

A total of 142 damages claims were filed against Government by people who alleged they had been assaulted, tortured and unlawfully arrested and detained after suspected secessionists staged surprise attacks on Government-linked targets at Katima Mulilo in the early hours of August 2 1999.

According to Legal Assistance Centre lawyer Ricardo Mukonda, who is currently dealing with these claims against Government, 11 of the claims have also been settled during last year.

Mukonda said at the current rate that the claims are being dealt with, it could take a further four to five years to finalise all of the cases. He added that if the process of dealing with the claims can be accelerated the claims could all be laid to rest in two to three years’ time.

Only eight of the civil claims filed against Government after the August 1999 State of Emergency in the Caprivi Region have so far resulted in trials in the High Court. The end result of those trials, of which the first started in June 2008, has been that all eight of those claims were dismissed by the court.

The six cases settled earlier this month were all filed with the High Court in July 2000.

All of the plaintiffs in the six cases are also currently facing charges in the main Caprivi high treason trial.

The six plaintiffs are Bollen Mwilima, Chrispin Saili Samahili, Rodwell Mwanabwe Sihela, Robert Lifasi Chelezo, Adams Boswell Muyumbano and Max Mubita.
They were each suing the Ministers of Home Affairs, as the political office bearer who was ultimately responsible for the Namibian Police in August 1999, and the Minister of Defence for N$250 000 for having allegedly been unlawfully arrested and detained in August 1999.

Each of the men was further claiming compensation from the two Ministers for having allegedly been assaulted and tortured by members of the Namibian Police following their arrest. Mwilima and Sihela each claimed N$500 000 over the treatment they alleged Police officers had subjected them to, while Chelezo, Samahili and Muyumbano were each claiming N$300 000 based on allegations of Police assaults and torture and Mubita was claiming N$250 000 in that regard.

The Ministers of Home Affairs and Defence were defending the six claims. In response to the allegations they denied that the six men had been mistreated as alleged, and further disputed that the arrests and subsequent detention were unlawful


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