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Namandje invokes attorney-client privilege

2020-04-28  Roland Routh

Namandje invokes attorney-client privilege

Prominent Windhoek based lawyer Sisa Namandje has hit back at the Law Society of Namibia (LSN), saying it merely pays lip service to the established principle of attorney-client privilege in its search to tarnish his reputation.

He said this in an affidavit filed at the High Court opposing the application for a search and seizure warrant the LSN applied for, that the fundamental issue of attorney-client privilege is at stake. 

According to Namandje, the LSN pays no attention to this issue.  “It approached the matter like the press and other uninformed members of the public as if the very fact of complying with this fundamental principle of the law, is somehow an admission of wrongdoing,” he said and continued: “This approach is fundamentally at odds with our obligation towards our clients and the rule of law. In fact, he said, the dilemma we face is if we comply with our attorney-client obligation, the LSN says we are hiding some wrongdoing and are not worthy of being legal practitioners and if we succumb to the pressure to submit to an unlawful process and disclose privileged information in this application, thereby breaching our obligations towards our clients, those clients will demand our removal from the roll for not being worthy legal practitioners.”

“I acutely understand the fundamental importance of attorney-client privilege. I shall not breach it. It is my constitutional obligation,” he stressed. He further contended that the LSN has no legal or lawful basis on which to lodge the application. Namandje is accused of using his law firm’s trust account to launder money for several people, including prominent politicians implicated in the Fishrot scandal.  According to Namandje, the LSN flouted its own rules when it abdicated its powers to its director to lodge the application for the warrant.

He said the decision taken by the LSN was not in compliance with it rules that at least five members of the council must be present at a meeting to decide whether or not to investigate a member of the LSN for possible misconduct. In this instance, he said only two members were present when the decision to investigate him and his law practice was taken. “Therefore, the decision is invalid.”

Namandje says the proceedings were not properly authorised by the LSN. 

He further said that it is not a technical issue, but goes right to the heart of the matter. 

“What is at stake is the legality of a purported decision taken by the LSN and/or its director,” he said. He further denied that he or his firm has ever refused to cooperate with the LSN. 

In fact, he stated he offered to have a face-to-face meeting with the LSN to iron out the issues between them, but his request was blatantly refused. Namandje further said that the decision to apply for the warrant was not that of the LSN, but that of its director, Retha Steinmann. “This was a conclusion which the director herself has reached,” he said.  “It would also appear that it is the director who decided, not only whether the jurisdictional fact of ‘non cooperation’ was indeed satisfied, but also what relief to seek and what documents should be sought under the warrant, which powers she does not have,” he stated. It thus follows, he said, that the decision to lodge the application for the warrant lacks legality, amounts to an abdication of powers, and omits to prove or even state that the director came to a reasonable conclusion that we were not co-operating – a jurisdictional fact necessary – to lodge the application which makes the entire application flawed. He further said that the director’s conduct was clearly irregular and that she had no intention to afford them the right to respond to whatever allegation were made against them. “But more worrying, it was clear that the applicant (LSN) wanted to conduct the investigation even in circumstances where it infringed the respondent’s rights and the rights of our clients,” Namandje stressed.

2020-04-28  Roland Routh

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