Protecting the public
Today, we’re spotlighting Nikanor Panduleni Idhogela, who is a senior complaints investigator at the Office of the Ombudsman in the Ministry of Justice.
The Office of the Ombudsman of Namibia is a constitutional body concerned with promoting and protecting human rights, fair and effective governance of public institutions as well as combating misuse of public resources.
Amongst others, Idhogela liaises with members of the public that visit the office to lodge complaints or seek advice on issues affecting them.
He is also responsible for the office’s case management system, handling complaints and queries sent via email and dispatch them to the concerned colleagues.
In addition, he spends time mediating between conflicting parties and suggesting recommendations to the Ombudsman concerning the outcomes of the investigations.
The firstborn from the family of six was born and grew up at Okapya, a village adjacent to Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo Airport at Ondangwa in Oshana region.
He matriculated at Oluno Senior Secondary School in Ondangwa. After that, he enrolled at the then Polytechnic of Namibia, now Namibia University of Science and Technology where he obtained an honours degree in business management.
“I joined the public service in October 2008 as a prison officer in the then Namibian Prison Service, currently known as the Namibian Correctional Service. I was in my third year at the then Polytechnic of Namibia when I went for basic training for the prison service,” he said. In June 2013, Idhogela joined the Office of the Ombudsman as a complaints investigator, before promoted to the current role of senior complaints investigator in June 2016.
His interest in legal matters started while still serving in the correctional service. There he acted as an investigator and prosecuted at the disciplinary hearings of both the correctional officers and offenders.
“In my current position, the eager to study law had developed in me, hence my decision to pursue an LLB Degree with the University of Namibia,” said Idhogela who is in the third year of his law study.
His expertise gained from many years of public service is crucial to the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman and the public service in general.
“My extensive expertise accumulated over a period of over 10 years is critical to the public service in the sense that, I don’t require much guidance and supervision to execute my duties. Also, I am at the level where I can initiate new methods of executing the job and passing the same onto others. Subsequently, my expertise contributes much to the attainment of the strategic objectives of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Justice and the public service at large,” he said.
On the other hand, Idhogela acknowledged the challenges of his job, that it requires dedication and nerve.
“One of the Ombudsman core mandates involves investigating the alleged maladministration or inappropriate conducts of all other state institutions in the execution of their respective mandates. Therefore, it can be a scuffle when investigating such allegations, especially in the event the institution is found at fault and refuses to cooperate with the investigations.”
Yet, there are memorable moments that he cherishes as a public servant.
“As a person that is helpful by nature, it gives me much pleasure and satisfaction whenever I make a significant difference in a person’s life. I will pick two moments related to unlawful detention since I consider freedom as the most precious right ever.
During one of my intake clinics in Kavango West, I came across an awaiting trial being refused to pay his bail for three weeks, which was legally granted upon by the court at Kahenge. That grossly constituted contempt of court by the police. I was satisfied with the role I played in ensuring his release within an hour of battling with un-cooperating senior police officers.
On another related matter, I was able to successfully address a long unresolved matter of another inmate where it appeared that his sentence was reduced at appeal by the Supreme Court but was kept in custody for more than two years.”
Although he initially took up work in government to put himself through his studies, and support his family, Idhogela is full of praise for public service. “The government has an important role to play in society, by providing services to the citizens that cannot be obtained from anywhere else especially by the less fortunate members of society. It gives me satisfaction to render such services and be part of that unique system. Just imagine an unfortunate person feeling mistreated by a public body but has no financial means to institute actions. His advice to aspirant civil servants is that “Public service is a calling to serve the nation without any expectations of accumulating wealth or becoming rich. In addition, the perception that the public service is the sector where one comes to relax is very wrong and an unacceptable notion.”