The State has proposed a payment of N$10 000 to a transgender woman who is suing the minister of safety and security after she was allegedly unlawfully arrested and assaulted by a police officer in July 2017.
According to lawyer Ndiriraro Kauari, the only credible evidence provided by Josper Cloete, known as Mercedes Von Cloete, is a single kick by a police officer, which the State cannot justify. Thus, the only justifiable amount in such circumstances would be a settlement of N$10 000.
Kauari, who is representing the minister of safety and security and government made these submissions during oral arguments before High Court Judge Esi Schimming-Chase on Friday.
“The plaintiff failed to lead any evidence of the alleged emotional and psychological shock, trauma, inconvenience and discomfort for which she claims N$200 000,” argued Kauari.
According to the State, they have proven their case that Cloete was the aggressor who acted violently towards a police officer by throwing punches and swung her handbag at him.
Cloete’s lawyer Unomwinjo Katjipuka-Sibolile argued the
actions of the police officer not only amounts to abuse of power but also constitute a hate crime.
Katjipuka-Sibolile said the officer had no right to hurl derogatory insults and physically assault Cloete, adding this showed he had no regard for her constitutional rights.
“The reality of the current Namibian situation is that the plaintiff is not alone. Recent media reports including those published on the second day of this trial indicate that violence against trans persons is on the increase.
The court should send out a message that it does not countenance or tolerate the gratuitous violence meted out the complainant and others. A settlement of N$200 000 would be a fair award to Cloete.”
In February 2018, Cloete took
the State to court after men who were not in uniform but identified themselves as police officers forcefully grabbed, forced her into a police Kombi and drove off.
Cloete was allegedly exiting a local fast food outlet in Windhoek’s city centre on 6 July 2017. While in the police van, a certain officer, Kavari, allegedly assaulted Cloete by beating her with his fist and hurled insults and derogatory words at her. The derogatory words included ‘moffie’ – a word used to insult men with feminine features.
As they got to the Windhoek central police station, Kavari reportedly continued to assault Cloete by kicking her. The assault was captured by the CCTV cameras in front of the police station.
Despite Cloete’s arrest that night, she was never charged or detained. Judge Schimming-Chase is scheduled to give a ruling in the matter on 15 November.