14 November 2012

Namibia: Double Whammy for Katiti in Civil Suit

Windhoek — Augustinus Katiti, the former CEO of the Walvis Bay Municipality suffered a double legal blow in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Not only did he lose his defamation suit of N$300 000 against The Namibian newspaper, but he was ordered to pay the legal costs of the entire suit.

Acting Judge Petrus Unengu dismissed Katiti's claim with costs, and now he has to pay for his own counsel, one instructing counsel and one instructed counsel for the respondents.

Katiti sued The Namibian for a series of articles that it published about him, claiming it was a 'witch-hunt' by the newspaper.

The crux of the legal wrangle however was an article by coastal reporter, Adam Hartman, in which real estate agent, Regina Kotchanova, accused Katiti of 'theft'. The article headlined, "Katiti charged with theft" irked the erstwhile CEO to such an extent that he sued the Free Press of Namibia, the company that owns the newspaper, its former editor Gwen Lister, Hartman and Kotchanova for N$300 000.

In the article it was alleged that Katiti sold furniture that did not belong to him, amongst further allegations by Regina Kotchanova, a representative of Remax Properties.

Katiti claimed the article was 'wrongful, malicious and defamatory' because of its wording, and claimed that it was understood by the readers of the newspaper that he is dishonest implying that he is a criminal; that he illegally sold office equipment and furniture not belonging to him for personal gain and that he purchased a business, but breached the agreement with the seller and as such is a dishonest person.

The Namibian and Kotchanova vigorously defended the action. Advocate Andrew Corbett SC represented the Free Press of Namibia, Lister and Hartman, while Katiti enlisted the services of Advocate Philip Barnard.

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