A convicted rapist, who is currently suing the judiciary and head of the Namibian Correctional Services for keeping him in police custody after his 10-year prison term had ended, obtained a slight victory after the defendants failed to appear in court last week.
High Court Judge Herman Oosthuizen ordered the judiciary and head of the correctional services to pay for Sebedeus Hoeseb legal fees for missing court appearance and failing to comply with court orders of filling their heads of arguments as ordered by court.
Oosthuizen further indicated he will deliver judgement on 29 March in the matter. Hoeseb is suing for N$1 million for sustained constitutional damages and general damages. He claims his 10-year sentence expired on 18 June 2014, but he was only released on 10 June 2016.
Thus, the 722 days he spent in custody were unlawful and wrongful. In his suit, Hoeseb claimed his continued detention was a direct result of negligence on the part of the Office of the Registrar for not communicating the reduction by the appeal court of one of his sentences from 15 years to 10 years to the correctional authorities.
According to court documents, on 30 April 2014, Hoeseb was sentenced to four years imprisonment on a count of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He was again sentenced to two years imprisonment or alternatively N$2 000 on account of being found guilty of escape from lawful custody on 18 June 2014.
Hoeseb was yet again sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for rape, which was reduced to 10 years on appeal by the High Court. He was released from detention on 10 June 2016, on remission. He is claiming that his sentences were supposed to run concurrently.
The executive director for the Office of the Judiciary and correctional services commissioner general indicated in their court papers that the time he spent in prison was lawful as he was supposed to serve 21 years putting into account all his sentences.
Although admitting that there were some administrative omissions at the High Court, which resulted in Hoeseb’s appeal success not being communicated to the Windhoek Correctional Facility where he was serving his sentence, the time he served was not unlawful as he was still serving his other custodial sentence.
“The plaintiff (Hoeseb) had to remain in custody and serve his sentence despite his rape appeal success on 1 June 2005,” reads the defendant’s amended plea.
Head of sentence managements and senior correctional officer at Windhoek Correctional Facility, Ernst Vries, said the claims made by Hoeseb are not correct, as the time he spent in prison beyond 17 June 2014 was lawful.
He said there was no court order from the sentencing court that a subsequent sentence and an existing sentence should be served concurrently.
Norman Tjombe represented Hoeseb with the respondents being represented by Aina Ndungula from government attorneys.