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‘Witches’ awarded compensation against pastor

2023-07-28  Roland Routh

‘Witches’ awarded compensation against pastor

Two women who sued a pastor and an accomplice were granted damages of N$15 000 each by Windhoek High Court Judge Marlene Tommasi. 

Aloisa Shingundi Nehoya and Veronika Venokatiti Ngitkwa filed the lawsuit after Shalongo Haimbodi of the Believers Christian Church and Bible Study and Asteria Alweendo authored and published defamatory audio and video recordings on Haimbodi’s Facebook platform which has a viewership and/or following of 4 997 people. Both Haimbodi and Alweendo did not oppose the lawsuit.

Northern-based lawyer W Chinsembu from the Henry Shimutwikeni law firm represented the two women.

In their papers, the two women claimed that the video and audio recordings contained false, defamatory statements, alternatively suggestions, innuendos, insinuations about, and concerning them, in the Oshiwambo language. The recordings take the form of an interview between Haimbodi and Alweendo. The recordings aver that Nehoya was practising witchcraft and was speaking from inside the body of Alweendo. It further avers that Nehoya started practising witchcraft at the behest of Ngitkwa and that she trained her two minor children in witchcraft; that she bewitched her husband; that she through witchcraft caused many miscarriages of women at the church she attends; that she uses her witchcraft to attract customers as a seller of clothes; that she is a member of the ‘Illuminati’, an association of witches and wizards; that she is responsible for house fires and car accidents in Outapi; that she is a witch; that she bewitched Alweendo with intention to cause her harm; that she kills members of her community including unborn children through witchcraft by causing their homes to burn down, car accidents and miscarriages and that she drove her former boyfriends to mental insanity. 

Similar allegations were made in respect of Ngitkwa. According to Nehoya, the false allegations has caused her considerable harm. She said she has been shunned from the community she lives in and is unable to attend cultural and social events because she has been branded by the defendants as a witch. 

She has suffered psychological harm and her children are seriously distressed as a result of social exclusion at school, Nehoya stated and added that her good name has been tarnished and irreparably damaged. 

She further claimed that her business, her only source of income has been negatively impacted and she has been severely embarrassed and humiliated. Her confidence and self-worth have been negatively affected and her good name as self-employed young woman trying to make an honest living has been gravely impaired by the actions of the defendants. She said she is no longer perceived as a valuable member of her community, but as a witch who often practices witchcraft on people she knows. 

Ngitkwa’s complaints are the same as that of Nehoya. 

According to the judge, the two plaintiffs are businesswomen who depend on the good name to conduct their business. She said that the publication of the video and audio was recurrent and widespread and the fact that the plaintiff’s children were also affected makes it aggravating. 

However, she said, after careful consideration of all the facts, she determined that an appropriate award for each plaintiff would be N$15 000 with 20% interest per annum from the date of judgment until date of final payment. She also awarded the cost of suit to the plaintiffs. -

2023-07-28  Roland Routh

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