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Dirty prosecutors getting nailed

Taxpayers to Foot Bill for Government Settlement

A former senior immigration officer who sued the Minister of Home Affairs and a top Namibian Police official for prosecuting him on alleged false charges this week tasted victory to the tune of N$38 000.

On Monday Police Commissioner Vilho Nghifindaka was set to continue testifying under cross-examination from Petrus Damaseb, legal counsel for David Shimwino, a former Deputy Director of Immigration and Border Control in the Ministry of Home Affairs, in the High Court in Windhoek.

Nghifindaka never returned to the witness stand though.

Judge President Pio Teek was told that the parties had agreed to settle the matter - something the Judge President had suggested at the outset of case close to a fortnight ago.

In terms of the settlement, which was made an order of the court, the Minister and Nghifindaka must pay Shimwino N$20 000 for damages he claims he suffered due to a malicious prosecution that he said was instigated by the Minister and the Commissioner in 1998.

They must also pay Shimwino N$6 000 for legal expenses he ran up when he faced charges of fraud, forgery, uttering and contravening the Immigration Control Act from October 1998, and another N$12 000 to cover his legal costs in the High Court case he launched against the Minister and Nghifindaka.

While the court order is against the Minister and Nghifindaka, Namibia's taxpayers will have to cough up the money.

Because the Minister and Commissioner were sued for something they were claimed to have done as part of their official duties the money will come from Government coffers.

Shimwino, who is now a businessman, claimed the Minister and Nghifindaka had no reasonable cause when they instigated the prosecution against him in 1998, and that they did not properly investigate the alleged charges against him.

Nghifindaka told the court two weeks ago that Shimwino was charged after he had investigated reports that someone portraying himself as the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs was helping Chinese nationals to get work permits from the Home Affairs Ministry.

His investigation indicated that Shimwino had helped some eight Chinese persons apply for work permits under the name of a business owned by an associate of his, who however stated that only four Chinese were supposed to get work permits in terms of a business agreement he had put together, Nghifindaka related.

He told the court that it was after this came to light that he acted on the advice of a lawyer in the Office of the Attorney General, as well as on the instructions of a Senior Public Prosecutor, when he had Shimwino arrested and charged.

The case was later withdrawn because another Prosecutor had directed that more investigations needed to be done, the Commissioner testified.

He claimed that the investigation is continuing, more than five years after it started.

Matti Asino from the Office of the Government Attorney appeared for the Minister and Nghifindaka.