A Windhoek woman who is suing the minister of safety and security and the police chief for wrongful arrest, physical and indecent assault by police officers suffered a legal blow when the High Court dismissed her application for a protection order last week.
Marissa Esterhuizen is suing minister Frans Kapofi and police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga in their official capacities for N$300 000 in connection to her alleged wrongful arrest, physical and indecent assault she had suffered at the hands of police officers on 23 February 2020 at Windhoek Central police station. According to her suit, on the date in question, she was at Die Geheime Bendehuis, Rugby Street, Windhoek when police officers demanded to speak to the manager and further demanded to peruse the liquor licence.
The manager allegedly presented the liquor licence and was arrested for seemingly violating the conditions of a liquor licence of the establishment.
During the process of arresting the manager, Esterhuizen enquired why they were arresting him when there was no sale of alcohol at the time. She explained that they aggressively handcuffed and dragged her to the police van and in the process, she hit her head against the rear bumper of the police van and briefly lost consciousness. When they got to the police station, the police officers took her to holding cells in which, 'male suspects in custody were roaming around freely'.
While she was being booked in, a male police officer allegedly subjected her to sexual verbal abuse by continuously making sexual remarks and advances towards her. "Additionally, whilst climbing the stairs at the police station, the plaintiff (Esterhuizen) was subjected to even further sexual verbal and physical abuse when the admin officer made further sexual remarks towards the plaintiff and touched her legs, respectively," reads the particular of claims. Ndeitunga who has indicated his intention to oppose the application has come to the defence of his officers rubbishing claims that Esterhuizen was wrongfully arrested or sexually and verbally abused.
In his affidavit, Ndeitunga indicated Esterhuizen was arrested for interfering with police work, insulted, physically assaulted and broke spectacles belonging to one of the officers on duty. On the sexual assault claims, Ndeitunga said: "The formality of charging a person involves the taking of fingerprints. It is on this basis that the investigating officer held the plaintiff's fingers with her consent to enable him to take the fingerprints."
He said it is part of the process and does not amount to sexual assault. Esterhuizen was charged with common assault - a case which has since been struck from the court's roll. The case has been postponed to 27 April for case management.
Local lawyer Vilen Hifindaka is representing Esterhuizen whilst Abulani Ncube is representing Kapofi and Ndeitunga.