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New Era loses defamation suit

2024-06-10  Maria Sheya

New Era loses defamation suit

The Windhoek High Court has ordered New Era Publication Corporation and its daily publication, New Era, to publish a retraction and apology, and pay N$50 000 to Namibian Police Commissioner Andreas Nelumbu for a defamatory article it published in September 2022.

Nelumbu sued the publication, saying the article, titled ‘Top cops plot thickens’, was defamatory, as it painted him as a thief, corrupt, untrustworthy and a person who conducts fraudulent activities.

The article covered the alleged missing police firearms, electricity generator and use of a police vehicle.

He claimed that statements such as “One of the police’s alleged enfants terribles is head of logistics Andreas Nelumbu, who allegedly stole a power generator, and has been using a police vehicle on his private farm in northern Namibia, charges that were allegedly swept under the rug under  Ndeitunga’s stewardship”; “Ndeitunga, it is alleged, knew about the thievery but turned a blind eye”, and “It is under his watch that 90 firearms and ammunition from the police depot in Windhoek vanished into thin air, without a trace” are defamatory.

On Friday, judge Orben Sibeya ruled in favour of Nelumbu, stating that despite the word “alleged” being used throughout the article, the article, in its totality, paints Nelumbu as “dishonest, corrupt and ill-disciplined”. 

“Whilst ‘alleged’ means without proof, when considered in the context of the whole article which the words feature, the article injures the reputation of the plaintiff (Nelumbu). I find, as a result, that the allegation that the plaintiff stole a generator is defamatory,” he said.

Sibeya went on to say that the use of “enfants terribles” exacerbates the defamatory statements in the article.

On the use of the police vehicle by Nelumbu, the court found that there was no evidence supporting the statement. 

Furthermore, there was also no evidence that he was given an opportunity to comment on the article before it was published.

“The freedom of expression must be exercised according to law, and subject to reasonable restrictions necessary in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of our country, national security, public order, decency or morality…,” said Sibeya.

He ordered the publication to pay Nelumbu N$50 000, and to retract and apologise publicly within 10 days.

Nelumbu has an ongoing case, where he is suing his employer for accusing him of having a hand in the missing guns and ammunition from the police warehouse in 2022.

Nelumbu is demanding N$2 million for the violation of his dignity and violation of his privacy of search warrants and allegations against him.

2024-06-10  Maria Sheya

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