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Minister Ngatjizeko sued over HIV slur

Mon, 28 July 2014 23:24
by Jeremiah Ndjoze

Somebody once said; ‘we are all leaders and followers but in order to be successful we need to know when to listen and when to keep our mouths shut.’
It however seem like one Nicodemus Nande, a prison Correctional Officer at the Windhoek Central Prison (WPC) was not listening. And now his unawareness of the unbendable fact above is bound to cost the Minister of Safety and Security a hefty N$1.2 million – if civil litigation that is being pursued by Alexander Mulokoshi Cloete, an HIV-positive inmate at the maximum security correctional facility is anything to go by.
Cloete is alleging that on the 18th August 2014 he endured a hurtful verbal attack from officer Nande who allegedly called him, amongst other things, a walking corpse, a dead body and an HIV carrier, while maintaining that he (Cloete) will die in incarceration. This incident according to documents in the possession of V-Metro is said to have happened in full view of bystanders at the Katutura State Hospital, where inmate was taken for his regular visits.
He further alleged that his girlfriend who also happened to be at the scene was not spared from officer Nande’s verbal diarrhoea and was referred to as an HIV/Aids bitch amidst being pushed around.
A letter from the Ministry of Justice, Directorate of Legal Aid dated 17 July 2014 suggest that the government has availed Advocate Matjituavi S. Rukoro of law firm, Society of Advocates based at the Namlex Chambers to pursue the civil case on Cloete’s behalf. This after Cloete made an official request for such a service on the 22 April 2014.
The law suit comes after a letter of complaint that Cloete wrote to Minister of Safety and Security, Immanuel Ngatjizeko was met with inaction. Cloete wrote the letter through Light to the Captive of Namibia, an autonomous registered Welfare Organisation (number WO 346).
“Our aim is to advocate for the rights and welfare of prison inmates across the country, the quest being of ensuring that their dignity is not violated so as to pave way for their effective rehabilitation and subsequent reintegration into mainstream society as responsible citizens,” said Engelhardt Ngatjikare, Executive Director of Light to the Captive.
Ngatjikare maintained that in assisting Cloete, who is currently housed in Unit 7 at the WCP, his organisation is leaning on Chapter three of the Namibian Constitution, which deals with Fundamental Human Rights and Freedom, particularly Article 8, which deals with the respect for human dignity.
Said Ngatjikare, “The Constitution states that ‘the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable.’ It further states that, ‘in any judicial proceedings or in other proceedings before any organ of the State, and during the enforcement of a penalty, respect for human dignity shall be guaranteed.’”
Responding to the inmate’s initial letter in a document which was acquired by V-Metro, Ngatjizeko maintained that, Correctional Officer (CO) has denied having uttered Cloete’s allegations and that according to the CO, the squabble started when Cloete’s girlfriend was caught red handed and subsequently arrested for attempting to smuggle marijuana and a cellphone to her boyfriend.  
“This has annoyed offender Cloete and prompted (him) to come up with these allegations,” Ngatjizeko wrote.
According to Ngatjizeko, unit Manager of Unit 7, Senior Superidendent Mosimane confirmed that he received the same complaint from Cloete and that he completed and incident report and submitted it to the Complaints and Discipline office for investigation. Cloete on the other hand is pleading his innocence. “If my girlfriend is guilty of the crime she is being accused of so be it, but I don’t thing that her deeds warrant and insult to my dignity and person,” he wrote to Legal Aid.