Namibia: Katiti Wants N$3,8 Million From NIP

FORMER Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) chief executive Augustinus Katiti is suing the parastatal for N$3,8 million, which he claims he was supposed to be paid to block him from working for competitors of the NIP for two years.

Katiti is suing the NIP in a case filed at the High Court last week, which the state-owned entity intends to defend.

The NIP board fired Katiti in August last year for alleged corruption, delaying his disciplinary hearing, asking politicians to protect him, and defending his case in the media.

In documents filed at the High Court, Katiti states that he was employed as chief executive of the NIP for a fixed five-year period from 1 April 2014, at an annual salary of N$1,5 million.

According to Katiti, when his employment with the NIP was terminated at the end of August last year, he was being paid an annual salary of N$1,9 million. The NIP is a state agency that handles blood testing for public health centres, and operates 40 laboratories across the country.

Katiti says NIP is obliged to pay him N$3,8 million, equivalent to two years of his terminated employment contract, for restricting him to conduct business similar to his erstwhile employer [NIP] for two years from termination.

"The defendant [NIP] was obliged upon the date of termination to pay to the plaintiff [Katiti], a once-off amount of N$3,8 million in consideration for the restraint imposed," the former chief executive said.

He accused NIP of failing to honour the contract and refusing to pay him the N$3,8 million.

The Namibian reported last year that lawyers representing NIP said the contract clause which forces the state laboratory to pay N$3 million to Katiti was "illegal".

NIP's lawyer, Profysen Muluti, said in a legal opinion submitted to the board last year that "we observed that Katiti's contract contains several clauses which are not only unlawful, but not in the best interest of the NIP".

Muluti said the clause is enforceable, including non-renewal of his contract, except when he is fired for dishonesty, fraud, or gross negligence.

"This agreement contains unpalatable terms. Whoever negotiated and crafted the contract on behalf of the NIP acted in bad faith, as the contract contains illegal terms, which expose the NIP to additional legal and financial liability," the lawyer stressed.

Katiti's contract was signed in 2014, and approved by the NIP board, which was led then by youth leader Mandela Kapere.

Kapere, who was the NIP board chairperson when Katiti got the job, denied the N$3 million story when The Namibian reported it last year.

"I will say that I have done my background check of what you are claiming, and your information is inconsistent with the outcomes of the briefing the board has, and information I have," he told The Namibian last year.

Kapere claimed that he is not aware of the N$3 million payout clause or board discussion on the matter.

"The chief executive is only entitled to statutory payouts as prescribed by law, as far as I know," he said.

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