The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has condemned social media attacks aimed at Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb, describing the attacks as irresponsible actions whose sole aim was to undermine public confidence in the justice system.
Damaseb came under heavy criticism after a photo of him taken in 2003 wearing Swapo regalia re-surfaced on social media.
“They claim that the judges are apolitical, but the deputy chief justice going to an international event wearing Swapo colours says a lot why this country corrupt creatures are still rooming [sic] the street!! In America, it would have been a big issue; here in Namibia it is normal as you cannot anyway be appointed to those portfolios without a ‘Corrupt Destructive Swapo Membership Card’!” said one Facebook user.
However, the JSC said in a statement yesterday the photo was taken at an international football platform at the time when Damaseb was involved in the administration of football.
“It must have been clear to anyone who knows the deputy chief justice that the photograph in question was not recent,” said the commission’s spokesperson Selma Mwaetako.
She said the malicious posting of the photograph as well as the negative comments made thereon by the person who posted it on a social platform and others were clearly calculated to tarnish the good name of Damaseb as well as to undermine public confidence in the judicial system.
“The commission condemns in the strongest terms these reckless and irresponsible actions and utterances, whose sole aim was to undermine public confidence in an institution whose reason for existence is to do justice to all with impartiality and integrity,” she said.
According to her, the commission underscores the importance of the judiciary in Namibia’s constitutional setting and the need to insulate it from controversies of the day.
“The commission would like to remind the public that judges have taken an oath to defend and uphold the constitution as the Supreme Law and will fearlessly administer justice to all persons without favour or prejudice and in accordance with the laws of Namibia,” she said, adding that they therefore owe their loyalty only to the constitution and the law.
Damaseb was a returning officer during the Swapo extraordinary congress in May 2004.
He was NFA president for seven years until 2006 when he stepped down to legal work commitments as judge president at the time.
According to a Wikipedia entry to his name, Damaseb entered the legal profession in Namibia in 1995, had served as permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Cabinet secretary and secretary to the President.
From independence in 1990 to 1997, he served as a senior government official. He worked in a private practice from 1997 to 2004 when he was appointed a permanent judge of the High Court of Namibia. He has also been a judge of the SADC Tribunal. Damaseb served on the FIFA Ethics Committee and was vice chairman of Confederation of African Football Appeal Board.