Namibia

State of the judiciary: new report on Malawi, Namibia, South Africa

For many judges it will come as a relief to hear some good news for once, in the form of largely positive public perception about the judiciary and its role in society. The good news emerges from a just-published report on the state of the judiciary in Malawi, Namibia and South Africa. Every member of the bench in those three countries will be only too well aware of the short-comings of their own judicial system, exacerbated by the restrictions imposed by the Covid pandemic, among a number of other problems.

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One of the key issues on the minds of everyone concerned about justice in the three countries examined by the new report, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa, is the extent of corruption, perceived or real, in the legal system, the courts and the judiciary.

One case, two high court judgments: Namibian supreme court concern about ‘grave irregularity’

The supreme court in Namibia was busy preparing a written judgment in a rape case appeal when it discovered something was very wrong. Unknown to it at the time the case was argued, there had actually been two high court decisions on the same matter. The first of the two had refused leave to appeal as part of an unsuccessful application for condonation of late filing, with the court holding there were no prospects of success on appeal. Three months later, the same applicant had brought another application, for appeal.

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There’s a double whammy involved in this story. First, Namibia’s supreme court found serious irregularities by the high court and lawyers involved in a well-publicised rape case. Second, Namibia’s ruling Swapo party has appointed the man at the centre of the legal dispute, Vincent Likoro, a former advisor to the minister of land and resettlement, as a member of the party’s high-level think tank – even though he has been convicted of rape and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Problems over legal standing to claim N$4billion plus world-famed game reserve for Namibian ethnic group

Legal efforts by several members of a Namibian ethnic group to prepare for litigation contesting ownership rights to one of the world’s best known game reserves, the Etosha National Park, have met with mixed results at the country’s supreme court. Eight members of the Hai||om said that the park was originally the group’s ancestral land but that the Hai||om had been dispossessed before Namibian independence. The post-independence Windhoek government had further neglected the needs of the Hai||om and had not acted to correct historic wrongs.

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A new supreme court decision, delivered just in time for Namibia’s March 21 Independence Day, deals with preliminary problems in a major land claim that, if successful, would impact on the entire country. The problems, related to legal standing, were identified by eight members of the Hai||om tribal group who want to litigate an extraordinarily wide-ranging list of claims.  

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