Erongo Regional Council chairperson Ciske Smith-Howard is facing a N$350 000 lawsuit from Henties Bay local authority councillor Sifried Junios //Garoëb. Smith-Howard, who is a member of the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), allegedly made several slanderous remarks about him when she was interviewed on a local interview programme ‘Evening Review’, which was hosted by Namibian Sun newspaper.
The Namibia Media Holdings, which publishes Namibian Sun, is cited as a defendant, but only as an interested party. According to court documents, Smith-Howard appeared and was interviewed on the programme on 21 October 2021, where she made false, defamatory statements, insinuations, innuendos and suggestions concerning //Garoëb.
According to court documents filed by his lawyer, Henry Shimutwikeni, Smith-Howard said “the IPC councillor in Henties Bay… who had seemingly stolen from his council… while he was an employee of the municipality … and then they relieved him of his duties in 2018 after an investigation found he was guilty… according to me, I strongly feel that we cannot make the thief the head of the institution from which he stole.”
According to //Garoëb, who is also an IPC member, the false statements, which were heard by at least 14 000 people who tuned in, were irresponsible, defamatory, unlawful, wrongful and untruthful, and were intended by Smith-Howard to infringe his dignity and damage his reputation in the eyes of the viewers of the programme, and suggest that he is a convicted criminal who was dismissed as an employee of the Henties Bay municipal authority.
“The viewers of the ‘Evening Review’, after watching on 21 October 2021 and hearing the false defamatory, unlawful, wrongful and untruthful statements, insinuations, innuendos and suggestions uttered by the defendant concerning the plaintiff, as a reasonable viewer would, were left with a dim reputational view of the plaintiff and the impression that the plaintiff is a convicted criminal”, the court documents read. It is further stated that the plaintiff (//Garoëb) has no conviction on any criminal offence, and furthermore was not dismissed by the Henties Bay municipal authority as insinuated by Smith-Howard. He further claims that the impact of the remarks by the defendant are further exacerbated by the fact that he is a well-known and respected member of the Henties Bay community, a community activist and an elected member of the Henties Bay local authority. Smith-Howard thus deliberately intended to damage his reputation and create the impression that he is a dishonest person who cannot be trusted.
He is asking the High Court to award him damages in the amount of N$350 000, and a declarator that the statements by Smith-Howard are false, as well as an order compelling her to unequivocally retract the statements and issue an unreserved apology to him. This is the second lawsuit //Garoëb has instituted against fellow politicians. In January this year, he lodged a claim for N$200 000 against Henties Bay mayor Lewies Vermaak for reportedly telling a daily newspaper that //Garoëb was facing a criminal trial in a Windhoek court for housebreaking.