Henties mayor sued for slander

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Henties mayor sued for slander

Roland Routh

Henties Bay mayor Lewies Vermaak is facing a N$200 000 lawsuit, which has been instituted against him by fellow local authority councillor Sifried Junios //Garoëb. 

Vermaak reportedly told a local daily newspaper that //Garoëb was facing a criminal trial in a Windhoek court for housebreaking. 

The Namibian newspaper and journalist Esther Mbathera is also cited as interested parties in the matter. 

In the article published on 5 November 2021, Vermaak is quoted by the newspaper as saying: “I found out this week he was also involved in a housebreaking incident, and there is a High Court case”; “the housebreaking case is still ongoing. 

“That is where we draw the line and said I cannot work with IPC anymore if they cannot remove this guy from council. I am sorry; I cannot put my party at risk.” 

According to the summons served on Vermaak by //Garoëb’s lawyer Henry Shimutwikeni, the false statements, insinuations, innuendos and suggestions about or concerning the plaintiff were irresponsible and intended by Vermaak to be defamatory, and they are further unlawful, wrongful and untruthful – and they compromised the integrity, dignity and reputation of //Garoëb, as he has no pending case before the High Court of Namibia relating to a housebreaking incident. 

“The defamatory impact of the statements, insinuations, innuendos and suggestions of the first defendant on the plaintiff is further exacerbated by the fact that the plaintiff is a well-known and respected member of the Henties Bay community and is further an elected member of the Local Authority Council of Henties Bay and the first defendant deliberately intended to create the false impression to the reader that the plaintiff is facing possible removal as a local authority councillor in terms of section 13 (1) of the Local Authorities Act, No 23 of 1992,” he charged.  

In addition, it said, Vermaak by making these utterances violated Code 4 (2) of the Code of Conduct for members of local authority councils, which makes it an offence for a fellow member to criticise or question the integrity of other members in public or otherwise. 

As a result of the pleaded defamatory nature of the false statements, insinuations, innuendos and suggestions made by the first defendant, the plaintiff suffered damages in the amount of N$200 000, the notice of motion reads. 

//Garoëb further wants for a declarator of falsity as well as an order compelling Vermaak to unequivocally retract the statements and issue an apology to //Garoëb within five days of the court order. 

Efforts to obtain comment from Vermaak were unsuccessful.

– rrouth@nepc.com.na