A prisoner held at the Elizabeth Nepemba Correctional Facility in Rundu Rural West is suing the Ministry of Home Affairs, Safety and Security for N$2.5 million for having lost two hand-written ‘Political Novels’ he intended on publishing and making a living from. Olivier Tonata Martin is claiming that officers at Elizabeth Nepemba lost his handwritten books titled ‘The Cry of an African Child. Vol 1’ and ‘The Cry of an African Child. Vol 2 – The prayer of an African greediest corrupt capitalistic vampire whose leadership and government’s administration had been the epitome and symbol of corruption to enrich his political cohorts’. The books allegedly took him three years and nine months to finalise.
In his particulars of claim filed before the high court, Martin is claiming that on 4 March 2019, he was ordered to hand over his books by the correctional officers – an order he complied with. He says the officers assured him that the books would be kept safe and be locked away in the prison’s safe, which is under the care of Deputy Commissioner General Ester Joseph. He was further given the assurance that the books would be returned to him upon his release from custody.
However, on 23 June 2020, Martin requested for his books as he intended on sending them to publishers. He was allegedly informed by the correctional officers that it would take time for them to locate his books as they were packed amongst many other things.
After making numerous enquiries and getting no answers, Martin reported the matter to the head of correctional services in Namibia, Commissioner General Raphael Hamutenya.
Martin said Hamutenya enquired about the books, and he was allegedly informed that the books were missing and cannot be traced or recovered.
Hamutenya ordered an internal investigation to have those responsible held accountable for the loss. Martin has also filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, and was informed that his case is being investigated.
“The respondents have failed to take responsibility for negligently causing the loss and/or theft of the plaintiff’s handwritten drafts, which took him years to write”, read the particulars of claim. Martin claims the N$2.5 million in damages is for the financial gains he would have made from the sales of the books, the time and effort he has put in to ensure that he finished his books, and the loss of important literature.
Furthermore, he claims for the stationery he used in writing and editing the books. He also claims that he was robbed of an opportunity to become a published author and of financial independence upon his release from custody.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, Safety and Security, Commissioner Hamutenya and Deputy Commissioner Joseph, who are the respondents in the case, have given notice of their intent to oppose the suit.
Judge Orben Sibeya ordered that these parties file their special pleas on or before 23 June.