A N$400 000 lawsuit instituted by two Swakopmund residents against the police for an alleged assault during Namibia’s first lockdown last year is heading for mediation talks.
Ruben Asser and Simeon Simon’s lawsuit claims they were both violently beaten and then forced to roll on the ground while holding each other’s bodies. The incident took place on 4 April at the Mondesa police station last year.
Their case was taken on by Norman Tjombe, a human rights lawyer, shortly after the incident took place on 4 April 2020.
“The plaintiffs were assaulted by a number of members of the Namibian Police, in that they were hit with closed fists and forced to lay down and roll in dusty sand,” an amended particulars of claim states. “I feared for my life as I thought that I will be killed or severely harmed. I was hit with closed fists a number of times in my stomach, which caused excruciating pain,” Simon recounts in an affidavit.
He said during the beating he fell to the ground several times, sustaining more injuries.
Simon says in addition to being beaten, they were also slapped several times. After the beating, he says the police officers forced him to the ground and he was told to hold the legs of Asser, who had also sustained a “vicious assault”.
“The police officers then required of us to roll back and forth in the sand. Whilst we were doing so, they were laughing and making fun of us.”
He said the incident was deeply humiliating and was “a punishment that was uncalled for”
A police officer at the scene recorded part of the assault on video. The clip was widely circulated on social media platforms, which added to the injuries they already sustained, the duo informed the court.
The duo are each asking the court to award them N$200 000 in damages.
They say that apart from the physical pain and injuries sustained, which were severe in the first week after the attack, they also sustained long term trauma.
In their plea, the defendants, listed as the government of Namibia representing the safety and security ministry, deny the allegations as a whole, admitting only that the two plaintiffs were at the police station that day.
“The Namibian Police acted within their statutory duties which were within the course and scope of their employment with the defendant,” the plea reads.
Yesterday (17 August 2021), High Court judge Orben Sibeya postponed the case to 7 September for a mediation referral hearing.