Botswana Citizen Sues Govt


By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Namibian Government is being sued by a Botswana national following allegations that he was harassed by a Namibian Customs official who apparently labelled him a “thief, liar and fraudster” on suspicion of smuggling vehicles from Botswana into Namibia. Botswana-based RauRau Attorneys is taking legal action against the Namibian State on behalf of its client Khaza Kambura (Kampure), who is seeking financial compensation of N$25 677 (20 000 Botswana Pula) for damages. The incident occurred on June 6 this year, when Kambura was passing through the Trans Kalahari/Mamuno Border posts en route to Gobabis. According to his attorney Stephen Kazeire Raurau, his journey was disrupted on his way back when he was apprehended by one of the Namibian Customs and Excise officials at Buitepos Trans Kalahari border post on allegations of smuggling cars into Namibia from Botswana. “My client was apprehended on suspicion and flimsy grounds without the officials having any evidence against him,” said Raurau. Kambura’s personal documents were also confiscated and copied for reasons not made known to him at the time. Thirty-four-year-old Kambura, who is a government employee, was travelling in his private capacity to buy parts for his car. “The said officer demanded and further forcibly seized the client’s passport and car documents, whereafter he made copies of same without any recourse nor his consent thereto,” reads a letter from RauRau Attorneys to the Director of the Customs and Excise Department in Gobabis, dated June 8, 2006. According to the letter, the officer on duty at the time allegedly started “hurling very disparaging, insensitive and defamatory words” at Kambura, calling him a “thief, a liar and a fraudster”. Allegations are that the man had the inclination to lie to the Botswana customs officials at Mamuno Border. In addition, a Namibian customs official allegedly claimed that Kambura was breaking the law by smuggling cars into Namibia and selling them here. Kambura was also questioned by the official about the vehicle he was driving that had Botswana registration numbers B 523 AJL. Although Kambura was released, copies of his documents were retained. RauRau Attorneys claim that all these allegations are false and the words uttered by the officer were with the intention to “demean, embarrass and reduce the client’s status in the estimation of right-thinking people”, causing Kambura to suffer trauma and embarrassment. Although two letters were forwarded to the Customs and Excise Office in Gobabis requesting a written unconditional apology to Kambura through his attorneys as well as a declaration that the documents’ copies will not be used for ulterior motives, no response has been forthcoming. Hence after the lapse of five working days with no response, the Gaborone-based lawyer decided to sue the Namibian Government on behalf of Kambura for damages. Raurau informed New Era that no response “amounts to unprofessionalism” and the motive was to avoid any kind of litigation from the start. He noted that such an incident generally also tarnishes the already good existing relations between Namibia and Botswana. “We did not want this situation to cloud the whole relationship between the two states over a trivial issue like this, but they are not responding,” he said, adding that this incident taints the “image of Namibia in treating in-coming visitors (foreigners) as well as undermining the cordial and harmonious relationship the two countries so tirelessly strive to harness,” in the document in New Era’s possession. Spokesperson of the Customs and Excise Department in the Ministry of Finance Benvan Simaata said the department was aware of the matter and thorough investigations are being conducted by the head of investigations. Simaata noted that they have been in constant contact with RauRau Attorneys and spoke to them on several occasions. However, he refuted claims that Kambura was arrested. He said copies of Kambura’s documents are only being used for investigation purposes. “There was no arrest. Our officials are allowed by the law to take copies of personal documents on grounds of suspicion and they are entitled to do that according to the law,” explained Simaata. Although there is legal action against government, Simaata is of the opinion that it would not go that far. He added that careful and thorough investigations are underway to address the situation.