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Spies head to the Supreme Court this March

By: Kelvin Chiringa

The first week of March will open with the Namibia Central Intelligence heading to the highest court of the land to challenge a ruling in which it lost a case to a local weekly newspaper, The Patriot.

Deputy Director in the division of public relations in the office of the judiciary, Ockert Jansen has indicated that this will be the first item on the Supreme Court roll.

The court has three seatings per year and on average sits on 15 cases.

Commenting on the looming court battle between the spies and the paper Ockert said, “This case has high public and media interest.”

He confirmed that it has been scheduled for hearing on Monday, 4th March 2019 (10:00).

It will be handled by three judges namely, Justice Petrus Damaseb (Deputy Chief Justice), Justice S. Mainga (Judge of Appeal) as well as Justice D. Smuts (Judge of Appeal).

Case background

The intelligence got embroiled in allegations of corruption last year which were carried by the paper while it was under its now resigned editor, Matthias Haufiku.

The organisation sought a court order from High Court Judge Harold Geier to freeze publication of such information which it claimed was closely related to national security.

The details are such that government purchased two farms worth N$57 million for the service.

The paper alleged that these were now being used by retired spies as well as property in Windhoek to the tune of N$8.2 million.

The spies hit back saying the paper did not have a right to have any knowledge of such properties as there was a likelihood that they would be used for intelligence purposes.

The Patriot’s lawyer, Norman Tjombe disclosed that the retired spies who were part of an association had received N$1.1 million worth of tax payers’ money via the spy-organisation.

These retired operators were understood to be private individuals who should not be benefiting from the state.

Judge Geier had to weigh the dilemma of having to stick to the “national security” argument of the service and the right of the media to access public information as well as exposing corruption.

The spy service successfully sought a court intervention against the paper’s move to publish the likely incriminating information, a move that was widely condemned within journalism circles as “media gaging”.

The paper’s editor, Haufiku, was on record saying, ““Namibia’s Intelligence services have been covered in a cloud of secrecy for too long, and because of that secrecy, there is potential for corruption and maladministration.”

“It is the duty of the media, including The Patriot, to continuously inform the public of how its resources are being used. We will vigorously fight for the rights of the media to do its job in informing the public.”

Tjombe submitted before the judge in a nearly filled courtroom that there was no national threat in exposing alleged corruption involving state funds on former spies living on farms for their own benefit.

He stated that the president had the prerogative of pronouncing places considered to be of national security importance and publishing such in the government gazette, something which was not done on the said properties.



Kelvin Chiringa

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