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State denies negligence in N$35 million eyesight suit

2021-10-15  Maria Amakali

State denies negligence in N$35 million eyesight suit
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Maria Amakali

The ministry of safety and security and the commissioner general of the Namibia Correctional Services have denied negligence or having failed to keep an inmate safe who is suing them for N$35 million for losing his eyesight. 

In court documents, the State claims murder convict Eben Cloete lost his eyesight after being stabbed during a gang fight, which occurred out of sight from correctional officers. 

Cloete, who is held at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, is suing the State for N$30 million for losing sight in one of his eyes and N$5 million for the pain he allegedly endured. 

In their defence, the State claims correctional officers were serving food to inmates when a fight broke out inside cell three in unit seven of the facility – a few metres away from the dining hall where correctional officers were serving food. 

The physical altercation, which is presumed to be gang-related, involved two inmates. In an attempt to stop “the attack on his fellow gang member and or inmate, he (Cloete) was stabbed by the rival gang member in the absence of the defendant’s members (correctional officers) who were stationed in the dining hall serving food to inmates at the time”. 

Thus, the State denies that the correctional officers were negligent in their duties or failed to keep Cloete safe. The State further claims no inmate reported the fight to the correctional officers or called for assistance. 

“It is submitted that only after the plaintiff was injured did he alert the members at the dinning hall about the incident,” reads the defendant’s plea. After the fight, no explanation was furnished to the correctional officers on why the physical altercation occurred between the inmates. 

“It is further denied that inmates fighting poses a danger to the plaintiff as to date he has not made an effort to report any suspicious, illegal or life-threatening activities to the defendant’s members (correctional officers), in order for the appropriate action to be taken,” said the State. 

In his suit, Cloete claims the correctional officers were negligent in their duties on 24 March 2020 and it resulted in permanent loss of his eyesight. He claims from the moment the argument started to it escalating to a physical altercation, the correctional officers were present and opted to do nothing, despite being asked for assistance. 

Cloete is currently serving 32-years of imprisonment after he was convicted in 2017 for murdering his girlfriend Anna Nadia Coetzee. The court at the time stated that Cloete had the intention of killing Coetzee when he broke into the house and stabbed her eight times with a knife.

2021-10-15  Maria Amakali

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