14 November 2012

Namibia: High Court Warns Kaaronda

Photo: Leadership
Court logo.

Windhoek — Judge Collins Parker yesterday warned the expelled secretary general of the Namibian National Workers Union (NUNW), Evilastus Kaaronda, to obey the court interdict against him or risk the full wrath of the law.

Last week Friday Judge Collins Parker ordered Kaaronda to stop interfering in the "contractual relationship between government and its employees in the public service." The judge restrained him from unlawfully "instigating" government employees to stay away from work without following the procedures of the Labour Act relating to the calling of a strike.

Yesterday, Kaaronda Mahongora Kavihuha (president of TUN), Dankie Katjiuanjo, Elfrieda Mwagbo and Josef Katjingisiua had to show cause why they should not be found in contempt of court for disobeying an order from the High Court by Judge Kato van Niekerk almost two weeks ago declaring the strike unlawful and ordering them not to demonstrate in front of the Government Office Park.

Kaaronda's legal representative, Edwin Coetzee, on instructions from Jeffrey Tjitemisa of Tjitemisa and Associates argued that since Kaaronda was not part of the proceedings leading to the first interdict, it could not be assumed that he was in breach of that order. He further said that should the court find that he was indeed involved, he (Kaaronda) denies that he ever uttered the phrases that were attributed to him by the media. These include the statements he made at the Khomasdal Stadium on November 05 when he reportedly called for a "national strike that would cripple government services."

He argued that Kaaronda denies knowledge of the first interdict, causing Sisa Namandje on behalf of the Minister of Education and the government to say it would be preposterous to accept that Kaaronda could not have heard about the interdict, which was widely publicised in every newspaper and over radio and television stations.

Advocate Steve Rukoro, on instruction from Joshua Kaumbi from Kaumbi-Shikale Incorporated argued that his clients breached the court order unintentionally and asked the court to condone their actions as unintentional misconduct.

At the start of the hearing Judge Parker warned the lawyers that he did not want to hear drawn-out legal theories, but practical solutions to a very sensitive situation. Subsequently they all limited their arguments to the prescribed half hour.

Sisa Namandje drew the judge's attention to various authorities placing the respondents in the thick of the matter. He said that the respondents acted as the ringleaders for the striking teachers and that as such they were the ones facing the music now. Namandje told the court that Kaaronda and his co-respondents' assertion that they called of the strike through an attached press release was a fatal stab in their own defence since the strike was only called off yesterday, while both orders read 'immediately'.

He further argued that the said respondents had no respect for Justice Kato van Niekerk as was clearly demonstrated right after the verdict when they said: "We will not back down, we expected this interdict and are ready for whatever comes our way".

He said Kaaronda acted as one of the "directing minds of the committee" by "jumping on the bandwagon" with the intention of urging the teachers not to obey the court order. He said that Kaaronda couldn't escape contempt of court because he was not party to the first court order, but because he inserted himself as one of the pillars of the body.

Judge Parker postponed the matter to December 05 for judgment and ordered that the interim interdict barring the teachers from striking made last Friday be extended.

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