Namibia: Jailed Ex-MP's Bid for Release Fails

Former National Assembly member Geoffrey Mwilima's attempt to get a High Court order that would pave the way for his release from prison on medical grounds has failed.

Mwilima's application for the court to declare that the medical officer of Windhoek Correctional Facility has failed to consider and make a decision about a request from him to be recommended for release on medical grounds was dismissed in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Acting judge Kobus Miller dismissed the former parliamentarian's application at the end of a judgement in which he stated that the order Mwilima wanted the court to make was "entirely misplaced" and not supported by the facts in the matter before the court.

Miller also noted that it appeared from the facts in the case that the medical officer of Windhoek Correctional Facility advised Mwilima in a letter addressed to his lawyer that in his opinion, Mwilima's medical condition did not meet the prescribed criteria for him to be released on parole on medical grounds.

Mwilima is serving an effective prison term of 18 years, to which he was sentenced in December 2015, after he had been found guilty on counts of high treason, murder and attempted murder in connection with his involvement in a separatist movement that aimed to secede the Zambezi region from Namibia.

Arrested shortly after armed secessionists staged surprise attacks on government-linked targets at Katima Mulilo on 2 August 1999, Mwilima has now been in jail for nearly 22 years.

While in police custody at Katima Mulilo after his arrest, he was seriously assaulted by police officers in an incident which exposed widespread police brutality in the then Caprivi region during the security clampdown that followed on the separatist attacks.

In the case heard by Miller, Mwilima informed the court in an affidavit that he is suffering from kidney failure, which necessitates dialysis treatment twice a week, diabetes and also high blood pressure. He also stated that three doctors who have been treating him have recommended that he should be released on medical grounds so that he can receive better treatment outside prison.

The commissioner general of the Namibian Correctional Service, Raphael Hamunyela, said in an affidavit also filed at the court that in terms of the Correctional Service Act and regulations, the minister of safety and security can authorise the release of a prisoner on medical grounds only on a recommendation of the prison's medical officer, but such a recommendation has not been made.

Mwilima asked the court to declare that the medical officer of Windhoek Correctional Facility has failed to consider a request from him to be recommended for release on medical grounds and has failed to make a decision about his request.

He also asked the court to declare that the medical officer's alleged failure to consider and decide his request was "a dereliction of duty and wilful disregard of the law".

In addition, Mwilima wanted the court to direct the medical officer to consider his request to be recommended for release due to his state of health and to make a decision on that, and in the alternative wanted the court to direct the minister of safety and security to authorise his release on medical grounds.

Miller indicated in his judgement that it may well be that Mwilima has other options which he could pursue to secure his release. "I express no view on that," he added.

During the hearing of the case in March, lawyer Sisa Namandje, who represented the prison authorities and minister of safety and security, argued that since the medical officer said he has made a decision that Mwilima did not qualify to be recommended for release on medical grounds, Mwilima should have asked the court to review that decision if he was not happy with it.

Mwilima's lawyer, Profysen Muluti, said yesterday he is studying Miller's judgement to decide the next course to follow.

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