WINDHOEK - Growing up with a strong and fiercely independent single mother is one of the things that shaped him into the man and professional that he is today.
This is rhe admission of Trevor Brockerhoff, who, rather boldly, took the risk of leaving the Department of Legal Aid to recently open up his own law firm – Brockerhoff Legal Practitioners.
He was born in the small town of Usakos in Erongo Region on November 28, 1988. He lived in Swakopmund during his infant years and subsequently travelled with his mother, Hanelore De Oliveira, wherever her work took them.
As a result, he says, he spent his formative school years at various schools such as Noordgrens Junior Secondary in Rundu, Tsumeb Junior Secondary and Katima Combined School. He also had a brief stint at Erongosig Primary in Usakos before he attended Westside High in Swakopmund where he completed his formal schooling.
He completed his B Juris and LLB Degrees at the University of Namibia.
He describes himself as resilient and driven, as that was what he was exposed to while growing up.
Brockerhoff started at the Directorate: Legal Aid within the Ministry of Justice on December 1, 2009 to February 23, 2018, but stressed that his relationship with the directorate will continue into perpetuity despite parting ways.
“I worked under the guidance and stewardship of Mrs Patience Daringo, who always believed in me and exposed me to platforms a youth in my profession cannot even dream of,” he said and continued: “An example would be where I was trusted with work in the High Court at the tender age of 21 and thereafter the Supreme Court at the age of 27.”
He further mentioned Brownell McHenry Uirab, whom he calls “a brilliant litigant” and his mentor.
Brockerhoff said he will forever be thankful for the privilege of working very closely with Uirab, whom he was fortunate to shadow and learn from, which in essence shaped the lawyer that he is today.
“With this invaluable experiences gained at Legal Aid I felt it was time to venture out of the nest and take on a new challenge in life,” he said.
Brockerhoff said at school he always wanted to become a marine engineer because he loved ships and wanted to travel the world - so he thought that would be the perfect career for him.
Alas, he said, he found his true calling rather fortuitous as he was always an orator and did not do too well in mathematics which is a basic requirement for engineering. This washed away his initial insatiable appetite for engineering.
“They say the Lord works in mysterious ways and I can attest to that,” the confident youthful lawyer explained.
He further said that it is difficult to pinpoint just one case as his favourite as he has done hundreds over the years, but the one that still plagues him to this day is the State vs. Jackie Jackson and others where he still feel a great travesty was committed when they were convicted and wrongfully sentenced for murder and robbery.
Other cases that he points out that has significant highlights for him are State vs. David Doeseb, who was accused of two counts of rape and was tried before Judge Christi Liebenberg in the High Court and acquitted at the end of his trial.
Another one that springs to mind is State vs. Filemon Shilongo and four others, which was a murder and robbery case in the regional court of Swakopmund where he represented a certain Asino who received a discharge in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
Another case of importance, Brockerhoff recalls, was the recent Supreme Court judgment in the matter of Zedekias Gaingob and three others, which was a challenge on the constitutionality of extremely long prison sentences in which we succeeded in having these excessive sentences declared unconstitutional.
He also mentioned the matter of State vs. Petrus Dumeni and two others, which was about a bank robbery and heard in the regional court of Gobabis where he represented Tuvii Handura. Handura received a discharge in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
George Ndamwoongela vs. State, which was an appeal by a police officer who was convicted for murder where he accidentally shot a civilian in the line of duty and sentenced to 12 years direct imprisonment, is another case he is proud of, Brockerhoff said.
“We successfully appealed and overturned the conviction which was substituted with a conviction on culpable homicide and given a wholly suspended sentence,” he remembers.
He is unable to pinpoint any specific prosecutor who he would label as most difficult to be on the opposite end with.
“We have brilliant prosecutors, no doubt, but like any case, ability only gets you so far, as a case is limited to the facts of the matter,” he said and continued: “If I was forced to pick someone, it would have to be Advocate Ethel Ndlovu. This would primarily be that she was my opponent for the case that still haunts me to this day.”
He describes Magistrate Sarel Jacobs as the presiding officer he admires the most.
“As a youth in this fraternity I had the distinct privilege to have worked with this brilliant presiding officer. He taught me so much and I will forever be grateful for the guidance and wisdom he imparted,” Brockerhoff said.
He further said that the current legal system is functional but could be upgraded.
According to Brockerhoff, there are still a few draconian laws in place which litigants should challenge by all means.
He said he has personally identified one or two such laws which he will definitely challenge soon in the Supreme Court.
He advises up and coming legal professionals to have discipline and a solid work ethic, nerves of steel and a never-say-die attitude.