Acting Judge Hosea Angula on Monday issued an interim interdict against the trustees of the Ehafo Trust that used to oversee the operations of the Ehafo Trust, in essence giving disabled Ehafo members access to a vocational training centre previously sold by the Trust.
The case surfaced after the trustees – allegedly in collaboration with Senior Counsel Andreas Vaatz – swooped in and took control of Ehafo premises, locking out 66 employees of the current occupant, the government of Namibia through the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation. The ministry uses the premises as a vocational training centre for people with disabilities.
According to an affidavit submitted by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Alfred Van Kent, the six respondents spoiled their peaceful possession of the premises situated at Erf 235, Klein Windhoek. The government and the ministry are now asking the court to restore their possession of the premises.
The ministry asked the court inter alia to order the respondents to restore the applicant’s undisturbed and peaceful possession of the said premises and to vacate the premises with immediate effect.
They also asked the court to interdict the respondents and those acting under their direction to refrain from interfering with the applicant’s possession of the premises in question.
The respondents are Andrew Matjila, Rolene Boer, Dora Lebereki-Thlabanella, Paul Helmut, TIA Protection Services and Walter Louw. None of the respondents appeared in court. Advocate Thabang Phatela, the legal representative of the applicants, informed the judge that while they were all served with the lawsuit at the offices of Vaatz Attorneys, it is not clear whether they will oppose the application or not.
He thus asked the judge to hear the matter ex parte, meaning in absentia, and to issue a rule nisi in relation to the prayers, with a return date to grant the respondents a chance to indicate whether they oppose or not.
The whole saga started on December 5 when the respondents proceeded to lock the gates of the premises and installed security to keep the employees out.
According to the affidavit of Van Kent the respondents – with the support of their attorney, a senior member of the court – took the law into their own hands and resorted to self-help. He claimed an agreement was reached between the respondents and the government that government would take over the running of the premises, including payment of the salaries of the employees.
He further said the agreement included a clause that the Trust would be terminated and that government would take over all operations of the Trust. This was done in March 2008 when government took undisturbed possession of the premises. This arrangement lasted until July when the legal representative of the respondents dispatched a letter to the ministry requesting the ministry to vacate the premises.
The ministry refused to comply and the result is the “illegal and brazen occupation of the premises by the respondents”, according to the affidavit. Judge Angula granted the applicants an interim interdict in the form of a rule nisi and ordered the respondents to show cause by January 22 next year why the order should not be made permanent.