6 December 2012

Namibia: Unionist Guilty of Contempt

THE suspended National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) secretary general Evilastus Kaaronda and members of the Interim Khomas Teachers Strategic Committee were found in contempt of court in a judgment handed down by Judge Collins Parker in the High Court yesterday.

Judge Parker found the Interim Khomas Teachers Strategic Committee, its members, Kaaronda, Mahongora Kavihuha, the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) president Dankie Katjiuanjo, Elfrieda Mwagbo and Josef Katjingisiua in contempt of court.

The Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo and the government brought an urgent application before the Labour Court on November 9, in which they requested the court to find Kaaronda and a group of teachers and other public servants who were involved in an illegal strike in contempt of court.

The matter was remanded to January 17, 2013, when Kaaronda, Kavihuha, Katjiuanjo, Mwagbo and Katjingisiua will have an opportunity to testify in mitigation before sentencing. The judge stressed yesterday that he would like to see the five testify in person and not through their lawyers.

Sisa Namandje, who represented Dr Iyambo and the government, argued during the trial that the five individuals must be found guilty of contempt of court because they failed to abide by the two court interdicts which were passed by the court on November 2 and 9 this year, requesting them to end the illegal teachers' strike.

"The applicants have exceedingly made out a case of contempt of court against the respondents, and they must be found guilty of contempt of court because there was deliberate non-compliance with the two court interdicts," Namandje argued.

Defence lawyers Steve Rukoro and Edwin Coetzee pleaded with the court not to find their clients guilty because their actions were "not intentional".

"It was simply a human error committed by the respondents. As we are standing here now, there is no illegal strike by teachers and other public servants going on in this country. We are all human beings, and as human beings we all make mistakes," the two lawyers argued at the time.

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