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It is the Judge President's wish that his answers will be published completely so as not to leave any room for misunderstanding that may arise from a partial publication of answers to such an important issue.

"Mr. Goeieman suggests that there is a perception that appointment of legal practitioners as acting judges creates (a) conflict of interest and (b) causes loss of trust in the judiciary.

(a) Conflict of interest

In the context of the judiciary, the term “conflict of interest” does not accurately define the problem. The more accurate expression is cast in the prohibition: “No man shall be judge in his own cause”- also known as disqualifying bias. Whether or not a judge labours under a disqualifying bias cannot be determined in the abstract but only by reference to the facts of a particular case. Disqualifying bias would normally involve financial interest by the judge in the case, or the perception of partiality or bias in favour or against a party to the case. Financial interest could be either that of the judge personally or a person related to him or her. As for the perception of partiality or bias, the test applied is that of the “well-informed, thoughtful and objective observer”– rather than the „‟hypersensitive, cynical and suspicious person”. If the well-informed and thoughtful observer - looking at the particular case - is likely to form the view that the judge would not be impartial, then a judge should not sit on the case. Applying these principles I do not think that well-informed and thoughtful people in our society share your concern that appointing legal practitioners as acting judges is inimical to the inviolable principle of an independent and impartial judiciary.

(b) Loss of trust in the judiciary

The public should not lose trust in the judiciary because legal practitioners are asked to act as judges. Every effort is being made by my office to see to it that private legal practitioners do not sit on cases in which their practices have an interest. The first admonition I give to acting judges when they are sworn in is that if they come across any case in which there is even the slightest hint of „‟conflict of interest‟‟ it must be raised with me or the next most senior judge in my absence. When that happens I would discuss the circumstances giving rise to the potential conflict with the judge concerned and if I am satisfied that it raises the potential for conflict, the file would be re-assigned to another judge. Human nature being what it is, I also have the responsibility to ensure that judges do not avoid the responsibility of sitting on cases for the flimsiest of reasons. You will be surprised at the number of files that are returned to my office daily for re-allocation to other judges because of the perception of bias.

If a party to a case has any reasonable and just cause to think that they would not get a fair hearing from a judge based on the principles stated above, it is their duty to inform their lawyer immediately so that an assessment is made whether or not to seek the recusal of the judge for any reason recognized by law. If they are not legally represented, such matter must be raised with the registrar of the court who would normally discuss it with me or the presiding judge and if a sound basis exists for the complaint, the judge will be replaced.

(c)  Appreciation of enquiry

I do appreciate the opportunity afforded by your enquiry to shed light on a very important matter such as this and congratulate your paper for the initiative in raising it. It is so important for the media to strive to provide proper information to the public so that they fully understand the functioning of our constitutional democracy."


The 4th annual JP Karuaihe Trust Fund Excellence Award winners have been announced. They are FLTR Mr Heiko Stritter (Engling, Stritter & Partners), Ms Vincia Cloete (Best LLB Student at Unam - 2009), Ms Stefania Cagnetta and Mr Nangosora Tjipitua (both best JTC Students - 2009), Mr Dieter Maree, Mrs Toni Hancox (Legal Assistance Centre) and Adv Geier (President of the LSN - accepting the award on behalf of Mr Jan Greyling of Jan Greyling & Associates, Oshakati).

About the awards

The LSN became involved with the JP Karuaihe Trust during 2006, when the trustees of the Trust approached the LSN to assist them in identifying and selecting deserving winners for the “Legal Excellence Awards”.  All our members (approximately 530 members of the Law Society of Namibia, in various sectors - ombudsman, attorneys, advocates, some prosecutors, some magistrates, some ministry officials, some legal advisors) were invited to compete for the Judge JP Karuaihe Legal Excellence Awards for Human Rights and Social Responsibility.

It has been said before, but needs to be said again, that the awards do not indicate that one firm, institution or individual is better than others.
The awards are intended to indicate and reward the commitment of individual legal practitioners and/or firms or institutions towards human rights and social responsibility.  

Best Student Awards

The criteria for this award are very obvious and straight forward.  With the assistance and co-operation of the Justice Training Centre and the University of Namibia, the LSN every year receives the name of the student who has obtained the best results the previous year.

The winners this year are:

Best Candidates Legal Practitioner 2009 in the Oct/Nov 2009  Legal Practitioners Qualifying Examination (LPQE) are shared by two candidates – for the first time.




each achieved 68% average respectively in all 11 subjects during the 2009 October-November Legal Practitioners Qualifying Examination  (LPQE).

The best final year LL B student for the 2009 academic year is


Social Responsibility Excellence Awards


Whether the individual/firm:

1. did any amicus curiae/pro bono/in forma pauperis cases?  
2. sponsored/funded any law students?  
3. made any donations to disadvantaged communities / social groups?
4. supported any charity for a communities or social groups?  
5. trained any candidate legal practitioner(s)?  
6. lectured at the Justice Training Centre or UNAM or Polytechnic?  
7. served on a committee of the LSN?  
8. participated in any public legal education or social responsibility projects such as representing the LSN at public hearings or careers exhibitions,  presenting legal education talks on the radio and in other media?   
9. Provided training to colleagues free of charge?  
10. Relevant matters which the firm/individual would want the panel to take into consideration (not covered above).

There are two awards under this category to allow for individuals or smaller firms to ‘compete’ against the larger law firms.

The winners for 2010 are:

In the category LARGER LAW firms the winner is:

ENGLING STRITTER AND PARTNERS, who complied with most of the criteria.

In the category SMALL FIRMS/INDIVIDUALS the winner is:

JAN GREYLING & Associates – OSHAKATI, a small firm in the north of the country who showed commitment by doing at least 6 amicus curiae criminal matters – free of charge - over the period and who made donations for awareness campaigns such as ‘against women and child abuse’

If we could award a runner up for the small firms/individual category it would have been awarded to one of our recently admitted legal practitioners who was also a bursary recipient of the LSN, Mr Dieter Maree.  

This individual has participated, together with the firm Conradie & Damaseb, at the time, in giving donations to a Children’s Home in Katutura as well Cosmos Radio for the Phukumani Trust.  He has also prepared a document for the Law Society of Namibia on ‘Social Responsibility in the Legal Fraternity’. We hope that he will never loose his passion for helping others.

Human Rights Excellence Award

The criteria for the Human Rights Excellence Award are:

A:  Outstanding/landmark human rights case(s) / litigation which contributed significantly to Namibia’s jurisprudence.  
B:  Project(s) to which they contributed to create human rights awareness and/or improve human rights conditions.  

The winner this year is:  


The Legal Assistance Centre deals with human rights issues on a daily basis and lawyers practising at the LAC have consciously limited their earning power to continue serving the Namibian nation.  For the lawyers at the LAC honouring the Rule of Law often involves a 24/7 commitment which is seldom seen or acknowledged by the broader public.

We sincerely congratulate all the winners and we thank the JPK Trust for providing us with this platform to honour these achievements.  

We wish the JPK Trust much success with your future endeavours.  We trust that your commitment to providing bursaries to deserving candidates to study law and honouring achievements will go from strength to strength and that the LSN and the JPK Trust will have a long and fruitful relationship.





On 5 August 2010 the SADC Lawyers Association issued a press statement, which amongst other things stated the following:


“The SADC Lawyers Association wishes to express its dismay over the continued disregard of SADC Tribunal Rulings by the Government of Zimbabwe. In June 2009, the SADC Lawyers Association issued a statement welcoming the 5 June 2009 ruling of the SADC Tribunal in the case of Mike Campbell and others vs. The Republic of Zimbabwe. In the same statement we urged the SADC Heads of State and Government to be robust and decisive in their treatment of Zimbabwe as they have done with the unelected government of Andri Rajolina in Madagascar.

It is however sad to note that the SADC Heads of State and Government have continued to give the Government of Zimbabwe special treatment and turn a blind eye to its continued disregard of the rule of law and lack of respect for regional institutions.  This in turn has given the Government of Zimbabwe the boldness and confidence to continue to trample on and trash the jurisdiction of the SADC Tribunal.


On the 16th of July 2010, the SADC Tribunal issued another ruling confirming that the Government of Zimbabwe was in contempt of the Tribunal’s previous rulings. In response, the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa stated that the Tribunal “could make as many such judgments as possible” but this would not change the government’s stance on the land issue.

Clearly therefore, the Government of Zimbabwe is not going to abide by the Tribunal rulings on its own free will. We therefore urge the SADC Heads of State and Government at the forthcoming SADC Summit to be held from the 16-18th of August in Windhoek, Namibia to take a principled stand and condemn the actions of the Zimbabwean Government in the interests of regional cohesion and integrity. In particular the Heads of State and Government should urge its member states including Zimbabwe to respect regional institutions which play an important role in defining who we are as a region. Continued silence on the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities will only help to play in the hands of sceptics who doubt the ability of the regional leaders to deal effectively with the Government of Zimbabwe and its leaders.

The attitude of the Zimbabwean authorities makes a mockery of the SADC Tribunal which is supposed to function as part of the system of justice to cement the regional integration efforts of the citizens of SADC. The regional judiciary should be respected and given the appropriate protection from irresponsible statements made by politicians.

Further the SADC Heads of State are urged to ensure that there is finality in the matters referred to the Summit by the SADC Tribunal. The credibility of the SADC Tribunal relies on the collective will and effort of the SADC Heads of State to enforce its decisions. We therefore urge the SADC Heads of State to enforce the decisions of the SADC Tribunal in order to create a predictable and transparent system of regional justice which is crucial for the economic and human development of the SADC region.”


Despite the call for action, the SADC summit has failed to act decisively despite Zimbabwe’s blatant disregard for the rulings of the SADC tribunal. This failure may result in further hardships and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.


The Law Society of Namibia (LSN) on various occasions has expressed itself and has condemned the ongoing violations of human rights and the disrespect for the rule of law on the part of the Zimbabwean Government.


The Law Society of Namibia, as a member of the SADC Lawyers Association again wishes to place on record our dismay in the failure by the SADC Heads of State to deal with the issues without fear or favour.


The Law Society of Namibia calls upon the Zimbabwean Government and all concerned to honour the Rule of Law. The Law Society also calls upon the SADC Heads of State and Government not to be swayed by Zimbabwe’s manoeuvres which are merely calculated at avoiding their obligations in terms of the SADC Tribunal rulings. We call upon all leaders in the SADC region to stand up to the Zimbabwean Government in order that we may show the rest of the world that, as a region, we respect our regional judicial institution and abide by the Rule of Law.









Honorable Prosecutor – General, Adv. Imalwa

Honorable Ombudsman, Adv. J. Walters

Distinguished Lt. General Ndeitunga – Inspector General

Distinguished Director of the Anti Corruption Commission - Mr. P. Noa

Distinguished Permanent Secretary – M.O.J- Mr. S. Katjiuanjo

Distinguished Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Safety & Security- Mr. S. Goagoseb

Distinguished Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance – Ms. Erica Shafudah

Distinguished Deputy Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Health & Social Services – Dr. Foster

Distinguished Acting Dean of the UNAM Faculty of Law - Mr. F. Nghishiililwa

Distinguished Government Attorney - Ms. C. Machaka

Distinguished Master of High Court - Ms. E. Beukes

Distinguished Director of Law Society, Ms. R. Steinmann

Distinguished Chief Lower Courts - Mr. P. Unengu

Distinguished Deputy Director of Legal Aid - Ms. P. Daringo

Distinguished Chief of Law Reform - Mr. J. Namiseb

Distinguished Drafters Representative - Mr. Micheal Fred

Distinguished Financial Intelligent Centre Representative - Ms. L. E. Dunn Distinguished NFSI Representative - Dr. P. Ludick


Distinguished Legal Practitioners present,

Distinguished Media Practitioners,

Ladies and gentlemen.


I feel greatly honoured, to officiate at this very momentous occasion, the realization of the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia. Indeed, the initiators of this forum and the role players who have committed themselves to this ideal can be proud today, as they have succeeded, and their relentless efforts rewarded, because they kept on trying to get this forum to come to life and to be operational. This is being realized today. Therefore, this gathering is prestigious in its importance and I cannot but agree with the renowned writer, John Maxwell when he says, “Success is achieved and maintained by those who keep trying.”


Ladies and Gentlemen, what is important in the eyes of the public when it comes to the Administration of Criminal Justice is the effective, efficient, institution, conducting and conclusion of criminal proceedings.

The major constraint in this undertaking currently and which undermines the promotion and achievement of justice in our country is that all the stakeholders who are involved in the justice system are operating in isolation. There is no coherence in decision making and each office operates separately and without complementing each other in order to complete the goal of the justice system in the country. This has ultimately resulted in an ineffective , Criminal Justice System.


It was in the light of the above scenario that a need was identified to follow a comprehensive and all embracive efforts of a unified approach to the fight against crime by all stakeholders. Pursuant to this approach all stakeholders in the criminal justice system have created a forum consisting of the role-players at the highest level of the institutions they represent. This endeavour has Cabinet blessing as the way forward in the fight against crime in the country.

The National Criminal Justice Forum consists of members drawn from inter alia: the Namibian Police, the Prison Services, the Prosecution Authority, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Judiciary, the Directorate of Legal Aid, the Law Society, Non-government organisations, Legal Assistance Centre, the Ministries of Finance, Gender, Equality and Child Welfare, Health and Social Services just to mention a few.

From these stakeholders, a Steering Committee consisting of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, a Secretariat and other ten (10) members is formed.


Director of ceremonies,

The main objective of the National Criminal Justice Forum is to look into the problems affecting our Criminal Justice System, come up with solutions to solve such problems and where necessary, make recommendations to the government on how the system should be improved.


I am particularly happy that by creating such a forum, Namibia will be at par with other justice systems in the world where such institutions have been established for example the National Criminal Justice Board in the United Kingdom, the National Joint Committee in Canada, and the Integrated Justice System for South Africa. The importance of this practice is to co-ordinate the activities pertaining to the fight against crime. It is quite apparent from the information available that the creation of a body as we did, is in line with the principle that none of the agencies within the criminal justice system can operate in isolation and that all agencies must maintain strong and efficient communication, consultation and coordination with each other to ensure that the criminal justice process is effective.


The creation of the National Criminal Justice Forum comes at an opportune time, as crime is on the increase in our country. At the center of our responsibility to society in general lays the effective and efficient instituting, conducting and concluding of criminal proceedings in a reasonable and predictable short time. Increased communication, understanding and cooperation among the police, the court officials and correctional service authorities will go a long way in achieving this goal.


The stakeholders to the National Criminal Justice Forum need to be proactive. The perpetrators of crimes must swiftly be brought to justice. Our women and children must not only be told that they are protected but must feel that they are protected. The innocent must know that justice will prevail. One thing we should remember is that we are not living on an island; we are serving a nation where democratic rules must apply. We can only achieve the goal of serving our people without fear or favour if we join hands and take a united stand against crime.

Ladies and gentlemen, the launch of the National Criminal Justice Forum is a significant achievement in our young democracy. It indicates the seriousness with which men and women in the Criminal Justice System take transformation and access to justice.


When we talk of judicial transformation and access to justice, we are talking about three issues in particular. We want to ensure that even the poorest of the poor do enjoy access to justice.

Our people need to have access to a high standard of justice that is attained without undue delay. The people of Namibia have been struggling for a just society where human rights and the rule of law, which are the fundamental pillars of a Constitutional democracy is observed at all cost.


This can only be achieved if we have an improved access to justice system that addresses inter alia, procedures and processes. This should include physical access to courts, and the provision of some form of legal aid to ensure that lack of financial resources does not hamper access to the justice system.


Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I urge all the members of the forum to work harder in order to deal with the perception members of the community have that the rights of criminals are prioritized above those of the of the victims. This boils down to the issue of access to justice for the victims. Also this forum needs to examine the approach to the granting of bail and eventual sentence, especially to those who are accused of committing serious and violent crime. Communities see alleged perpetrators arrested and swiftly released only to commit further crimes or to intimidate witnesses.


Last but not least, I have taken cognizance of what members of the forum have thus far accomplished, well done! However, I must hasten to remind you that a lot still remain to be done. We should draw strength from our size as a forum that we can now do more than before as individuals and separate units.


May the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia bring closer the goals of justice for all, and may the vulnerable members in our society see a ray of hope in the establishment and existence of this body.


Having said the above, I now have the pleasure and honour to officially launch the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia.


I thank you.









The Honourable Minister of Justice, Mrs. Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, MP, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am particularly honored and humbled, to welcome you all to this august gathering. Indeed a prestigious occasion, I would say, a dream has become reality.


Honourable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, you are aware how currently the Criminal Justice System is operating. A system in which institutions operate in isolation from one another.


Ladies and Gentlemen, all protocol observed. Today we are noticing another milestone reached in the history of the people of Namibia. I am excited, because now we can show our country that it is worthwhile to have faith in us, the custodians of law and order, the protectors and comforters of the victims of crime, the enforcers of the Rule of Law and the nurturers of Human Rights.


The idea of initiating a Criminal Justice Forum comes a long way. All the stake holders in the criminal justice system have at one point or the other realized that we are operating in isolation. Soon we have discovered that we are not operating to achieve maximum expected results and that our services to the people of this country, are not optimum, we joined forces together and I am proud to say that this idea was immediately embraced by all stake holders. I must further emphasize that already at the first meeting, notable results were recorded and significant changes were brought forth.


The launching of the National Criminal Justice Forum is the sealing of this vision of cooperation, assistance, and the joint effort of enhancing and promoting the administration of justice in Namibia. A shared vision comes alive today, by all stake holders in the Criminal Justice System, to capacitate and motivate our respective teams to fulfil and realise the ideal of justice for all.


The National Criminal Justice Forum, from its inception, has one vision and that is to make a difference in the current criminal justice system. The commitment and dedication of its members are noteworthy and above all, an open channel of communication and assistance was established.


The above only realized because of individuals who unselfishly made this forum a priority in their day to day operations and I make use of this opportunity to acknowledge their efforts and contributions.


Ladies and Gentlemen, all protocol observed. As in any organization or platform where change is envisaged, there are always challenges. These challenges include lack of resources, financial and human, red tape in decision making and implementation of plans and processes. We are alive to these challenges and are working closely to overcome them. We however need the cooperation of not only the stakeholders involved in the criminal justice system, but also the input and assistance of the society. If the society do not underscore our efforts, then all will be fruitless and in vain. I thus, make use of this opportunity to invite the public to come with contributions as to how we can work together to evolve and better our services to the people of this country.


Honourable Minister of Justice, I once again welcome you to this occasion and convey to you the forum’s commitment to the task bestowed upon us. Further, Honourable Minister, May I request our government, through you, to assist us in order to achieve our objectives. All stake holders and representatives from all offices, ministries and agencies present, you are welcome and your presence is a sign of your unwavering dedication and commitment. Be assured that your presence here today, is highly acknowledge and appreciated.


I now have the pleasure, of inviting the Honourable Minister of Justice, Mrs. Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, to the podium for her keynote address and the official launch of the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia.


Honourable Minister, I am most obliged to welcome you to the podium.


I thank you.






The Law Society of Namibia has received several complaints from various members of the public regarding the advertisement placed by Metcalfe Attorneys in the Namibian newspaper.

The Law Society considered the advertisement and found it to be in unnecessarily bad taste and therefore in breach of the advertising guidelines set by the Rules of the Law Society of Namibia. These advertising guidelines are published in order to enable legal practitioners to advertise their services to the public at large, subject to certain requirements, including but not limited to the fact that the advertisements should be professional and in acceptable taste.

The Law Society confirms that it never approved this advertisement, and would not have approved it, considering the elements of sexism and the disrespect for women which appear clearly from the picture accompanying the advertisement.  In this regard the Law Society condemns this degradation of women in the interests of the provision of legal services.

The main objective of the Law Society is to enhance and protect the integrity of the legal profession.  The publishing of any advertisement which is in bad taste, whether as to content, prominence and medium, does not contribute to the integrity and positive image of the legal profession.  

The LSN would urge the designers, media and the members of the LSN to act responsibly, with integrity and with professional respect when designing or publishing advertisements. Advertisements that purport to degrade the values of the community, or exploit members of the community are contrary to the lawful requirements for the publishing of advertisements of legal practitioners.

The Council of the Law Society of Namibia therefore distance itself publicly from this irresponsible advertisement and will consider referral of a complaint to the Statutory Disciplinary Committee appointed in terms of the Legal Practitioner’s Act 1995, to investigate charges of unprofessional, unethical and/or untoward conduct on the part of the legal practitioners involved.

The Law Society of Namibia also wishes to utilize this opportunity to urge all the legal firms to acquaint themselves with the advertising guidelines before advertising their firms, or to seek prior guidance from the Council should they be uncertain on any aspect thereof.

Retha Steinmann (Mrs)
Director: Law Society of Namibia


The advertising rules of the Law Society of Namibia allows a firm to advertise / publicise its practice

2.1 A firm may engage in any advertising, publicity or promotion in connection with its practice, or permit another person to do so on its behalf, provided such advertising, publicity or promotion complies with the provisions of these guidelines and does not in any manner compromise or impair nor is likely to compromise or impair any of the following:

2.1.1 the firm's independence or integrity;

2.1.2 the client's freedom to instruct a firm of his or her choice;

2.1.3 the firm's duty to act in the best interests of the client;

2.1.4 the good repute of the legal profession;

2.1.5 the firm's proper standard of work.

2.2 All publicity must be in good taste with regard to content, prominence and medium, and whether or not publicity is of good taste, shall be determined by the Council. Firms may seek Council's prior guidance in this regard.

2.3 All publicity shall bear the name of the firm.

2.4 Publicity may not -

2.4.1 be inaccurate or likely to mislead;

2.4.2 include statements about the firm's success rate;

2.4.3 be so frequent or obtrusive as to cause annoyance to those to whom it is directed;

2.4.4 make comparisons with, or criticise, other firm/s or members of any other profession;

2.4.5 criticise the quality of, be comparative with, or claim to be superior to the service provided by any other firm or any section of the legal profession.

on behalf of
The Law Society of Namibia

2nd February 2010

The attention of the Law Society of Namibia was drawn to certain statements which were apparently made on behalf of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), by its Secretary General Mr. Kaaronda, which were reported on in the local media and to which the Law Society is constrained to react.

The Law Society takes particular issue with the unspecified claims by Mr. Kaaronda to the effect that ‘some High Court Judges have apparently presided over cases in which their spouses, close relatives and business associates had vested interests’ and that he believes that there are cases decided by our courts which, if tested properly, can reveal certain traces of bias towards or in favour of such relatives, spouses and business associates’.

While not detracting from Mr. Kaaronda’s prerogative to exercise the NUNW’s rights of freedom of speech and of fair comment the Law Society is nevertheless of the belief that such general, unqualified and unsubstantiated statements reflect negatively on the entire judiciary and the administration of justice, which statements also undermine the dignity, repute and authority of our courts.  

Such statements would obviously also cause great embarrassment to the entire Supreme and High Court benches and could even influence, intimidate and obstruct the courts in the conduct of the important role which they play in any democratic society.

If the NUNW indeed has facts to substantiate the general statements of its Secretary- General this would obviously also be cause for grave concern also to the Law Society and would have to be investigated.

It is however at the same time pointed out that sight should not be lost of the various mechanisms which are in place in our judicial system through which such serious allegations can be taken up by the affected parties in a meaningful manner and according to recognised rule of law procedures and remedies.

On the issue of forcing judges and magistrates by law to declare every direct and indirect economic and commercial interest we would like to inform the public that the High Court Act 16 of 1990 specifically provides that :

“ No judge of the High Court shall, unless authorised thereto by the Judicial Service Commission accept or hold any other office of profit, or receive in respect of any service rendered by him or her any remuneration other than the remuneration contemplated by law.

The Judges Remuneration and Pension Acts, as amended, then provide specifically for the remuneration income and benefits of judges of the High Court.

Finally and while it is kept in mind that judges, as public figures, are not immune from criticism, we would nevertheless like to impress upon democratically elected leaders, holding public office, to comment responsibly on rule of law issues in public, with due deference to their office and keeping in mind that judges and magistrates, though the nature of such office, cannot publicly respond to such public statements and criticisms.



Speech by the Hon. Mr Justice Petrus T. Damaseb
Judge-President on the occasion of the launching
of the High Court Legal Year 2010

18 January 2010

My Lords and My Ladies
The Honourable Ombudsman
The Learned Prosecutor General
The Learned President of the Law Society  
The Learned President of the Society of Advocates
The Learned President of the Namibia Law Association
Senior Counsel

Distinguished legal practitioners and candidate legal practitioners

The staff of the High Court

The Media

Ladies and gentlemen

I am privileged once again to welcome you to yet another opening of the High Court Legal Year. I wish you all a prosperous and successful 2010, a year in which Africa hosts the world’s biggest show piece- the Football World Cup.  2009 was a very busy year for the judges, the registrar and her staff and, I am sure, the practitioners who had business before the Court. I wish to welcome to the Court the following judges who received permanent appointments at the end of last year: judges Liebenberg, Swanepoel, Shivute and Tommasi.  I have assigned judges Liebenberg and Tommasi to the Oshakati Division of the High Court. Regrettably, the legislation necessary to activate the civil jurisdiction of the Oshakati Division of the High Court has not yet been passed. I trust that the Ministry of Justice will assign top priority to its passage this year. The two judges concerned will therefore deal exclusively with criminal matters in the meantime.

The government has also appointed two deputy registrars; one for Windhoek and the other for Oshakati. While welcoming them to the High Court, I want them to know that a lot is expected from them in assisting the registrar render an efficient service to the public and the Court. In particular, I want to see the bag log of   untaxed bills of costs reduced appreciably.

I will now give you some statistics of the work done in 2009.



At any given time there were not more than 12 judges at the High Court in Windhoek.  You will see the increase in volume when you compare this year’s figures with last year’s.

  2009 2008
4439 2234
191 188
51 41


  2009 2008



Ladies and gentlemen

At this forum last year, the president of the Law Society of Namibia stated that the Law Society had lodged complaints with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) about long-outstanding judgments of the High Court. Against that backdrop, in 2009 the JSC took very clear decisions in respect of long-outstanding judgments of this Court, and set guidelines for the future. This is what it decided as far as the High Court is concerned:

  • All judgments in respect of which complaints were received by the JSC should be delivered by the end of the first term of the High Court in 2010.
  • All other reserved High Court judgments outstanding for longer than two years must be delivered no later than the end of the second term of this year.
  • Going forward, all reserved judgments must be delivered in terms of the guidelines approved by the JSC. These guidelines have been made available to the Law Society for the benefit of the litigating public.

This JSC decision breaks new ground:  Judges are now expected to work within a certain framework as far as delivery of judgments is concerned. Everyone involved must give the decision of the JSC a chance. It would be most unfortunate to behave as if it does not exist.
This year’s legal year marks the dawn of a new decade. What is my vision for the High Court for the decade ahead?  We have to enhance access to Court. More and more people must be empowered to approach Court to have disputes resolved, with as little hassle as possible. As you all know, at the moment the High Court has no facility for wheel-chair access. That cannot be right. I have in fact received a powerful complaint from a disabled practitioner about this. I have assured him that I will bring his complaint to the attention of the authorities whose responsibility it is to attend to the Court’s infrastructure needs; and I have. While on this point, I must point out that more Court rooms and chambers for judges are necessary if we are to have any hope of decongesting the roll. More judges and more Court rooms will make it possible for cases to be set down in the shortest possible time. The delay in setting down especially criminal matters is unacceptable. As you would have read in the media, we are already setting down criminal trials only for 2011 and 2012. We are all alive to the need to remedy the situation and I do not want panic to set in at this stage. We are addressing the problem and a solution must be found.

Going forward, it is my expectation that the government will address the infrastructure-expansion needs of the High Court building in Windhoek as a matter of priority so that more permanent judges can be appointed to deal with the ever increasing work load at the High Court.

Another challenge that faces us in the decade ahead is ensuring that trials, once commenced, are finalized speedily. Just too many cases are becoming part-head and do get postponed over and over again without end in sight , chiefly because the judges are so few and  conflicts arise ever so often in their diaries. Resolution of this problem will also require introducing specialist divisions of the Court to pave the way for the fast-tracking of commercial disputes. It is now accepted that international investors’ interest in a country is augmented if it boasts a system of credible and speedy dispute resolution. The JSC’s decision setting down clear guidelines for the delivery of reserved judgments will no doubt form an essential part of such a fast-tracking system. At the end of last year, the judges of the High Court proactively took a decision in principle for the creation of a Commercial division of the High Court. We will be taking steps to implement that decision.

Ladies and gentlemen

Since today marks the dawn of a new decade, it would be remiss of me if I did not reflect on the values that underpin our system of constitutional democracy- a system chosen by the great men and women who, close to 20 years ago, wrote out Constitution. As we enter the third decade since they enacted that seminal document, we owe it to them, some of them since deceased - and the future generations for whose patrimony they chiefly intended it - to ask ourselves if we remain true to that system of constitutional democracy.

Our Constitution makes it the province of our elected representatives to make the laws for our governance. It is left to the people, expressing their will through their votes, to elect a legislature and President to govern us. The laws passed by our elected leaders, and the actions of the government, should comply, generally with the Constitution and, in particular, the Bill of Rights contained in the Constitution. In their wisdom the founding mothers and fathers of the Constitution did not assign to themselves the power to decide, when there is doubt, whether the laws or the actions of the government    comply with the Bill of Rights, or any part of the Constitution. That is understandable as the process of governance is, of necessity, politically and ideologically directed:  It is folly to expect it to be otherwise.  Governing and law-making involve making political choices based on one’s notion of social justice. In the process of making political choices, conflicts arise. Others in society will like such choices; others will not and will feel aggrieved. Against that backdrop, the most visible manifestation of a constitutional democracy is an independent and impartial judiciary whose task it is to adjudicate upon disputes that arise in our society. The legislature and the government of the day therefore have a solemn responsibility to support the judiciary in the discharge of its constitutional duty. As Abraham Lincoln prophetically put it:

“It is as much the duty of government to render prompt justice against itself in favour of citizens, as it is to administer the same, between private individuals.’’

When judges perform their judicial function they do so guided by their training, their integrity, impartiality and, above all, the oath they take to “defend and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia as the Supreme Law and will fearlessly administer justice to all persons without favour or prejudice and in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Namibia’’.

Judges strive always to decide cases that come before them based on previous judicial pronouncements where those exist, or as they see the law in a particular context. I do not know of a judge in this jurisdiction who shares the view that judges must take decisions to suit whatever is the most popular idea at the time, or in tandem with people’s preconceived notions of what a result should be on a particular set of facts. The expectation of a pliant judiciary is inimical to the judicial oath I have just read out.  It saddens me to hear utterances which suggest that it lies in any one person or interest group's gift whether there will be an independent judiciary, or the limits of its independence.  As judge Schutz of South Africa once put it:  “A Judge is a Judge, not a functionary of convenience”.

I hardly need point out that Judges are not independent only when they invalidate the actions of officialdom, but also when they validate those actions. The State machinery is just as entitled to independent and impartial justice as any other person in our society.  As judges we will lose the reason for our existence if we lose sight of that reality. I make these remarks because very often one I observes that our pronouncements are trumpeted as proof of our independence when Court decisions go against officialdom, but looked upon as suspect when decisions validate actions of government. The judiciary is not, and never must become, a mouthpiece for one particular sector of our society.

Those, ladies and gentlemen are the values as I see it that underpin the constitutional democracy endowed upon us and those to follow us, by the founders of the Constitution.  As I said at the occasion of the Constitution Day organized by the Ombudsman of our country, Honorable Advocate John Walters:

“The Namibian Constitution has not yet been tested severely. There have been irritations along the way, but none so serious as to make the Constitution gasp for life-sustaining air. The country is largely peaceful and the institutions created under the Constitution have functioned reasonably well. Human history teaches us though that our Constitution will one day be subjected to a severe test that makes it gasp for life-sustaining air. Whether or not it overcomes that test depends on the strength of the institutions we create and the people who run them. Those institutions need to be strengthened so that if the real test one day happens, they can, collectively and separately, come to the defense of the Constitution.’’

I am convinced that all those who value our democracy accept that as judges we are human and are doing our best in resolving disputes. Being human we may make mistakes but malice or improper motive have no part in what we do. Adjudicating disputes   is not an easy task.  In the nature of things there will be a winner and a loser. It is a task that calls for public understanding and not scorn and ridicule.

With these remarks, I wish to once again thank you for taking off time to attend this opening ceremony; and I now declare the High Court Legal Year 2010 officially open.

I thank you.


Speech by the President of the Law Society of Namibia,
Adv Harald Geier,
on the occasion of the launching
of the High Court Legal Year 2010

18 January 2010

My Lords and Ladies
Honourable MinisterS
The Honourable Omudsman
The Honourable Prosecutor General of the Republic of Namibia
The President of the Society of Advocates
The President of the Namibia Law Association
Learned senior counsel, colleagues,
Members of the profession and
Candidate of legal practitioners
The Registrar, and
Staff of the high court
The media
Ladies and gentlemen

In accordance with the precedents which have been set by various speakers since the introduction of the annual ceremonial opening of the High Court legal year in January 2006 by his Lordship the Judge President, it has become customary to comment at this occasion on some of the events of the past year and also to consider the challenges of the year lying ahead.


It was then the High Court legal year 2009, which, at its close, saw the appointment of 4 new permanent High Court Judges.

I wish to firstly take this opportunity to congratulate them once again on their appointment and trust that their judgments will enhance the jurisprudence of Namibia.

On the subject matter of judicial appointments in general two aspects do however come to mind.

In the past, and although it does not take much to imagine why the Law Society and its members have a direct and substantial interest in all judicial appointments, the Law Society was not informed in advance of any imminent judicial appointments. It would accordingly be appreciated it this practice could be re-assessed as this would enable the legal profession to make and give its input through the Law Society on any such envisaged appointments.

Secondly, and related to the first aspect, and surprising as it may seem, it needs to be mentioned that since the enactment of the Judicial Services Commission Act during 1995, no regulations have as yet been promulgated. Such regulations, so it is thought, would, inter alia also prescribe a procedure for the appointment of judges, which procedure would make the entire process more transparent.

The promulgation of such rules would accordingly be welcomed.


The issue of outstanding judgments has featured as an important Rule of Law topic in the last couple of years at this occasion and as this issue has not yet been entirely resolved I am duty-bound, as my predecessors were, to address this issue also on this occasion.

You will be well aware by now that the Law Society of Namibia lodged a complaint in this regard with the Judicial Services Commission during 2008, in which the Law Society complained of misconduct against certain judges for their failure to deliver reserved judgments within a period of, at least two years from the date that such judgements were reserved.

The decision of the Judicial Services Commission on this complaint was communicated to the Law Society during November 2009 when the Law Society was informed that the Judicial Services Commission had concluded that “ there is no prima facie case of ‘gross misconduct’ against the judges complained against … “.

Also during December 2009, and in accordance with a mandate received from members during the Annual General Meeting of the Law Society, a second, and similar complaint to the first, was lodged in respect of further judgements, which had in the interim become outstanding for a period of, at least two years from the date such judgements were reserved.

This second complaint remains pending.

Importantly on this topic it needs to be mentioned that under cover of the Judicial Services Commissions response to the first complaint, the Law Society was informed that certain deadlines for those outstanding judgments have now been set and that the Honourable Judge- President had also proposed, for implementation, reasonable standards for observance by Judges of the High Court in delivering reserved judgements.

These developments are welcomed and it is thought that this issue can and will finally be resolved during this year.


In the speech delivered on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Justice during the Annual General Meeting of the Law Society held during November 2009, the Hon. Minister saw fit to reiterate certain of her comments which she had made at the opening of the Oshakati High Court were she had stated that :

"… working together with the University of Namibia’s Law Faculty, the Law Society and others … certain challenges facing the justice sector are not insurmountable …"

and where she had gone on to caution that :    

"… only when we genuinely assume common purpose will we be successful,     which success is for the citizens to enjoy …". 

The Annual General Meeting was informed that the Minister was apparently making reference to certain challenges facing the justice sector when the Government Justice Sector’s commitment to ensure that ‘we’, (the Ministry, the Law Faculty and Law Society) can work together to ensure that the citizenry has access to affordable legal services from both the public and private sector was underscored on her behalf.

My predecessor Adv Schimming-Chase during her speech delivered during last years opening of the High Court legal year stated the Law Society’s position in this regard when she said that :

"… it is imperative to look at what this legal profession can do to assist the plight of those who are unable to afford access to legal assistance…".  

It would appear therefore that common purpose does indeed exist in this regard.

On the other hand it should not be forgotten that also the legal fraternity is not immune to the economic environment it operates in and the global financial crisis, which, so it is expected by some, will only really be felt in Namibia during this year and which will, inter alia, also once again bring about a significant increase in the cost of living.  In that regard her predecessor, Mr. Charles Bodenstein, was in my view correct in pointing out that :

"… economically speaking, legal practitioners are on an escalating scale being put under more pressure to earn more money in order to maintain the same standard of living … ".

In my view the quest to bring about access to affordable legal services must therefore strike a balance between these interests. 

The Law Society is accordingly prepared to join hands with the Ministry and others to work towards this common goal. 


On the same occasion the Honourable Minister also indicated that further transformation of the legal profession was required in her view. 

On this score the Law Society also has certain views and it is for instance felt in this regard that the ‘so-called 50/50 legislation’, which had been enacted to bring about affirmative action in the Law Society, is for instance no longer required in view of the transformation already achieved and which is in any event taking place on an ongoing basis.

Allow me to use this opportunity to assure the Hon. Minister that the Law Society continues to be highly sensitive to the requirement of transformation and the Society, from its side, is more than willing to also join hands with the Ministry also on this important issue.


In closing allow me to touch on two matters which are expected to receive attention this year.


Obviously and importantly the Law Society continues to be committed to its task to assist in the enhancement of professional standards.

It is expected that this task will be executed on two fronts in that, on the one front, further training for already admitted legal practitioners will be offered, while on the other the Law Society is already preparing to give its input in respect of the expected review of the current system of practical legal training for candidate legal practitioners.

But until such time that any such review is implemented, if at all, I wish to renew the appeal to all senior legal practitioners to make their time available at the Justice Training Centre to ensure that aspirant members to the legal profession receive the best possible practical legal training thereby equipping them in the best possible manner for a successful future in a demanding profession.


Also high on the agenda will be the planned Special Meeting at which the Law Society will seek a mandate from its members for various amendments to the Legal Practitioner’s Act.

In this regard and once such a mandate has been obtained the assistance of the Ministry of Justice will be sought.

Also on this front I assume common purpose, at least on bread and butter issues, affecting the day to day affairs of the legal profession and the public, which in the offered spirit of co-operation surely will go a long way to ensure that most of the challenges lying ahead will be successfully met.

Allow me finally to say that it has been my privilege to address you here as the representative of the legal fraternity in Namibia and may I also take this opportunity to wish you a successful and prosperous 2010.

I thank you.

Remarks by Adv. O.M Imalwa,
the Prosecutor-General of Namibia
on the occasion of the launching
of the High Court Legal Year 2010

18 January 2010

My Lord Justice Petrus Damaseb, Judge President of the High
Court of Namibia;
My Lords and ladles, judges of the High Court of Namibia;
Honourable Utoni Nujoma MP, Deputy Minister of Justice;
The Honourable Adv. John Walters, Ombudsman of Namibia;
Esteemed Adv. Harald Geier, President of the Law Society of
Namibia; Esteemed Mr. Lucius Murorua, President of the
Namibia Law Association;
Esteemed Adv. Raymond Heathcote, President of the Society of
Esteemed legal practitioners present;
Esteemed state advocates;
Esteemed Registrar of the High and Supreme Court and your
staff; All media practitioners present,
Ladles and Gentlemen:

My Lord the Judge President, it is indeed an honour and privilege to extend to you and to this whole august gathering, wishes of success and excellence for the New Year that we have just entered.

May God be with us all and may He guide and lead us to discover and ... our calling to serve the people of this country without fear, favour or prejudice. May we continue to make a difference where we are placed, with whom we are placed and with whatever resources that are available to us.

I further wish to thank you for providing me with the opportunity once again to make a few remarks at the commencement of the 2010 High Court legal year. It is now the time for us to prepare ourselves for the year ahead and to remind ourselves of what our vision and mission is and of that we wish to accomplish. As the well known author John Maxwell wrote: "Part of the preparation for the battles of life is not only to acquire the right equipment to wear on the body but also to make proper preparations of the mind!"

The Office of the Prosecutor-General experienced a number of challenges in 2009. We had a total number of 24 resignations, despite of which we continued to serve all courts in Namibia. The opening of the High Court in Oshakati was a milestone in the legal history of this country. However, with a severe shortage of staff, this office struggled and eventually managed to serve both High Courts with an only existing staff complement of about 10 advocates. The Lower Courts were also affected severely by the shortage of prosecutors resulting in the slow .process of finalizing criminal cases.

My Lord the Judge President, this is just a glimpse of the picture of the Office of the Prosecutor-General for 2009. I bring it to the attention of this gathering to show that although we went through a bad patch, we remained focused and dedicated to our mandate, to effectively and efficiently prosecute crime.

Other challenges faced by the Office during the period under review include the enactment of inter alia, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, the Financial Intelligence Act and the additional responsibilities these pieces of legislation added on both the judiciary and the prosecution service without the corresponding increase in personnel at the Office. We further recognize the need for more specialized training of our prosecutors in all our courts and we acknowledge the mistakes made when regard is had to the Appeal and Review Matters of this Court. Having realized this, we will continue with our in-service training programmes, external training programmes and in general to build the capacity of prosecutors and to sharpen their skills in order to secure a fair trial for the accused.

My Lord the Judge President, having scrutinized and addressed the challenges this office endured and the areas that need attention, I now turn to the holistic picture, which I think is necessary to review, in so far as the Criminal Justice System. is concerned.

The year 2009, brought with it, the ever increasing delays in the finalization of criminal trials. Old cases, dating back as far as five years ago, remained on the court roll and were being postponed to
the middle of 2010. The situation worsened and before the middle of 2009, cases were postponed to 2011. The main concern being that accused persons had to remain in custody for much longer and
the sword of a criminal matter hanging over them for an unspecified period, as indicators show that there is no guarantee that their cases will be finalized on the next appearance dates.

It is no secret that the Namibian Public is gravely concerned with the current situation of our courts. People demand that the constitutional promise of a fair trial within a reasonable time be operative and be a reality. They expect from us to remain faithful to this obligation and I am afraid to say we are losing their trust and respect.

How can we then begin to give this situation a facelift and to start improve on this situation? Indeed more judges in both the High Court and the Supreme Court must be appointed to deal with the ever-increasing case load. More prosecutors need to be appointed and the current structure of the Office of the Prosecutor-General needs to be reconsidered as a matter of urgency. Defence legal practitioners and state advocates should be prepared to make themselves available as soon as the hearing date is set. Some of these challenges, especially the issue of the lack of personnel be it

judges or prosecutors, need the urgent involvement of Government in particular the Ministry of Justice that is entrusted by the Government of the Republic to oversee the administration of justice in the country. No person expects courts to do well in dealing with cases if they are being faced with personnel and financial problems. There is an urgent need for the Ministry to address these problems before some of our courts come to a standstill.

Another area that might be considered for improvement is the time that it takes for the legal aid applications to be considered, approved and the appointment of counsel finalized. I must add that in some instances, the current legal aid machinery is a cause for concern, especially where appointed legal aid counsel withdraws from a matter, and disclosure is not forwarded to the newly instructed counsel. Now the State must rediscover documents and the matter is once again delayed.

I further on this same issue of legal practitioners, wish to request for a sterner approach when applications for postponements are made. The current situation where legal practitioners come to court on the date that a trial should commence and then indicate to the presiding judge or magistrate that he or she now received conflicting instructions from his client and as a result thereof, he or she withdraws from the matter, is of grave concern to us. All the state witnesses have been subpoenaed and are present, some even from abroad, and now as a result of the accused's constitutional right to legal representation, the matter must be postponed. I appeal to all stakeholders involved, that this practice should cease and that we take a proactive approach in order to ensure that trials take off on the date of set down.

Previously we had also addressed the practice of some legal practitioners to merely after full disclosure by the state, advance a plea explanation of "the State is put to prove each and every allegation contained in the charge sheet." We all know that this is not the true reflection and it is proved by the subsequent evidence which is led by the State which often remains unchallenged and undisputed. We once again plead that presiding officers invoke the provisions of Section 115 and that legal practitioners contribute to the speedy finalization of criminal trials by indicating the real issues in dispute and not leaving the state in a position to prove undisputed issues.

I wish for a moment, to remind ourselves of our ethical role as an officer of the court. To be a fit and proper person at all times, include proper preparation of not only the facts, but also the law. To administer justice calls for a high premium of trustworthiness, of faithfulness and of honesty. We all took oath to serve the people of this nation to the best of our abilities. Yet, when we look in the window, we see our shadows of ill-will, non-commitment and a wanton disregard for the Rule of Law. I sometimes shudder when I read the judgments of this Honourable Court. How officers of the court ill-behave and have no regard for the principles of the Criminal Law, the Law of Evidence and how facts are concealed in order to maneuver an escape from liability. Is this really what we were taught? Is this justice? Is it true what is said by the people of this country, that we are not concerned with a just outcome, but that we are just continuing without taking into account what effects our conduct has on the lives of others? Is it not high time that we should be held accountable for our actions and that we accept responsibility for our inequities?

My offer still stands to invite anyone to report any unbecoming behavior of any prosecutor to my office. Unacceptable conduct will and shall not be tolerated and all of my prosecutors are taken to task to deliver to this nation a service which reflects integrity and accountability. I further wish to assure you, Honourable Judge President that you and all stakeholders in the administration of
justice can count on this office's continued commitment and dedication to make 2010 a year of resounding success and a year marked with a difference.

I extend a hand of mutual understanding and co-operation in order to get solutions to some of the challenges I have highlighted and even to bring forward some of the cases that have been postponed to year 2011 and to ensure that they are dealt with this year. Let all the officers of this honourable court commit ourselves to this call to make year 2010 a ilifferent year in terms of service delivery.

Lastly, I wish all of you a fruitful year with success In all your endeavors.

I thank you.

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