Namibia

Traditional king ordered to appear in court and testify about his decisions

High court judge, Maphios Cheda, was faced with a tricky issue earlier this month. A group of Namibian traditional leaders, ousted by the King after allegations of misconduct and other “transgressions”, challenged the King’s decision to remove them and appoint other traditional leaders in their place. The suspended leaders said the King was of advanced age and no longer able to make decisions on his own.

The unusual court case was the result of a long-running feud within Namibia’s Ondonga traditional authority and involves senior traditional leaders and advisers to the King, the “Omukwaniilwa” of Ondonga. At some stage six of these advisers were sacked and they then asked the court to intervene.

Namibia: Bending a little bit backwards

LAY litigant Ronald Somaeb was in over his head when he attacked the right of any Namibian judge to hear the case in which he was suing the chief justice: all judges would be thinking “about (their) boss, the chief justice” and would be biased in favour of the CJ, he said. Somaeb's efforts came to nothing, however, and his case has been dismissed as vexatious and frivolous.

In Namibia the challenge to the chief justice came from lay litigant Ronald Mosementla Somaeb. The first round of his fight with the judiciary concerned a house, owned by the bank, from which he was evicted.

In this case the high court noted, “It has been the practice of this court to bend a little bit backwards in order to accommodate genuine lay persons as justice is for all ….”

The Complexity of Land Expropriation

TO an outsider, the case might at first sight seem no more than a relatively simple dispute over ownership of the land on which a shopping mall is being built. But the case of Stantoll v Johannes involves far more complex issues than that. It is also about the difficulties surrounding state expropriation of land and subsequent expectations of compensation, at a time when this is a hot issue in many African countries.

THE case that initially sparked all the trouble involves a property developer and members of an extended family clan that used to live on the site where the development is taking place.

The disputed land lies in Ongwediva, part of Namibia’s remote, far north, an area where communal land rights are a hot issue and where the country’s ruling party has its stronghold. It’s also an area ripe for development.

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