Ex-fugitive in Namibia sues police for N$12 million
A prison inmate serving a 57-year sentence is suing the Namibian Police for N$12 million, claiming he was wrongfully accused of having escaped after he was found guilty of rape, armed robbery and assault in the Windhoek High Court in February 2016.
In a civil claim lodged at the High Court in September, Charles Namiseb is alleging that a police constable released him from custody after he had been found guilty, and that this release violated his constitutional right to dignity and to not be subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
He is also claiming that his alleged release from custody caused a delay in the finalisation of his trial, and that the police defamed his character when they issued an alert calling for assistance to re-arrest him.
Namiseb (37) is suing the minister of safety and security, the inspector general of the Namibian Police, police officers who held senior positions in the Khomas region in 2016, and the police officer who investigated his alleged escape from the Windhoek Central Police Station for N$10 million for having allegedly violated his constitutional right to dignity.
He is also suing the named defendants for N$2 million for defamation of character.
A government lawyer has given notice that the defendants will be opposing Namiseb's claim.
According to Namiseb, a police constable released him from custody in 2016, and also made entries in record books to indicate the reason for his release.
In actual fact, however, Namibiseb was found guilty on three counts of rape, a charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm on 29 February 2016, and was ordered to remain in custody until a scheduled presentence hearing about two weeks later.
In spite of that, he disappeared from custody on the same day that the verdict in his trial was delivered, and remained on the run until he was arrested in South Africa in May 2017.
Following his arrest, he resisted extradition to Namibia, but was eventually sent back in July 2018.
His trial in the High Court was concluded in May this year, when he was sentenced to an effective 57 years' imprisonment. A week after that sentencing, Namiseb was found not guilty in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on a charge of escaping from lawful custody.
It is understood that his acquittal on that charge came after evidence indicated that a police officer had let Namiseb go free from the Windhoek Central Police Station.
In his civil claim, Namiseb says he was charged with having escaped, despite evidence being available to indicate that he had been released from police custody.
He is also complaining that after his arrest in South Africa, he was detained in Pretoria, and was deemed "a very dangerous escapee" by the authorities, and placed in custody with other detainees who were also regarded as dangerous.
During his detention in South Africa, he "was exposed to dangerous detainees that resulted in a lot of sleepless nights, just to be sure to stay alive", Namiseb claims.
He also complains that while in custody in South Africa, he was treated "as a worthless fugitive and/or escapee".
Namiseb further states that an alert that the Namibian Police circulated through Interpol to appeal for assistance in tracing him and having him arrested defamed his character worldwide, caused him to be "tortured emotionally", and also damaged his family ties.
Namiseb filed his claim for damages against the police in person, without legal representation.
A case planning conference for the matter is scheduled for 7 November.