25 January 2013

Namibia: Court Orders Removal of Facebook Smut

IN the first case of its kind in a Namibian court, an urgent interdict directing someone to remove defamatory material from his Facebook page was issued in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday.

With the interdict, granted by Acting Judge Esi Schimming-Chase, German national Klaus Weichhaus has been ordered to remove all defamatory material related to his Namibian former girlfriend from his Facebook page, and not to publish any defamatory material about her on Facebook or anywhere else.

Weichhaus is alleged to have set up a Facebook page that he turned into a cyber shrine of smutty statements in dishonour of the former object of his affections, Okahandja resident Grace Zamuee. The offensive page appears to have been deleted after yesterday's interdict was granted.

A similar page set up by Weichhaus on another website could still be accessed on the internet, though.

"Although the case has still a long way to go, we can say that this case must have been the worst of 'cyber stalking' that Namibia ever experienced," Zamuee's lawyer, Norman Tjombe, commented yesterday.

"For a period of over a year, our client had to endure extreme forms of harassment, intimidation and defamation, which resulted in the most serious infringement of her human rights to dignity, privacy, character, self-esteem, safety, freedom of association and freedom of movement. No person should ever have to go through what our client experienced."

The interdict is an interim order, which at this stage will be in force until March 1. Weichhaus, who is living in Namibia and has titled himself a "minister of the German Empire for special duties abroad", was not present at court to oppose Zamuee's application for the interdict.

Zamuee informed the court in an affidavit that she became involved in a relationship with Weichhaus in April 2010. Initially she did not know that he was married, and when she found out about that, he told her he was divorcing his wife, she claimed.

"The relationship was at best destructive and abusive," she claimed, saying that Weichhaus was constantly abusing her psychologically and using vulgar language towards her. She finally decided to end the relationship in October or November 2011, Zamuee said.

After attempts to engineer a reconciliation between her and Weichhaus failed last year, he set up the Facebook page on which he then proceeded to post a flurry of untrue and defamatory statements about her, Zamuee said.

"All the allegations from Grace are not true. I did not stalk her, insult her, abuse her, and, and, and. All I have stated on my fb account was and is still true," Weichhaus stated by email in response to a request for comment on the allegations made by Zamuee yesterday.

Weichhaus's Facebook page was awash in accusations against Zamuee, photographs of her, and coarse statements about genitalia, sexual acts and licentiousness.

Weichhaus is claiming that some of these statements came from cellphone text messages which Zamuee sent to him. Zamuee is denying that she sent those messages, Tjombe informed the court.

According to Zamuee, she went to the police twice to lay a charge against Weichhaus, but nothing came of this.

He threatened her that he would not leave her alone, and that he would be making her life a living hell, she claimed.

Having made that threat against her, he went on to harass her by persistently contacting her by telephone and through cellphone text messages and emails, by stalking her at her home and at her workplace in Windhoek, and by relentlessly publishing defamatory material about her on his Facebook page, she claimed.

His entire Facebook account was dedicated at ensuring that she was defamed at all cost, Zamuee charged.

The comments and statements made about her on his page are wrongful and defamatory, and are intended to be understood by readers that she is a variety of unsavoury things, such as a prostitute, a cheat, promiscuous, a gold digger, and immoral, Zamuee claimed.

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