Dominic Muinelo, 42, a resident of Shilo village in the area of Lizauli, some 117 km west of Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region has refused to accept a N$50 000 compensation fee due to be paid to him by the Ministry of Safety and Security.
Muinelo was assaulted by members of the police in December 2014, after an informer told them he was in possession of elephant tusks. According to Muinelo he had just come from the farm on December 27, 2014 when he saw police cars arriving at his village.
The police demanded that he hand over a bag of elephant tusks in his possession. It’s understood an informer, who had travelled with Muinelo from Singalamwe the previous day, had told the police that he saw him with a bag of elephant tusks. Upon arriving at the village the police demanded that he hand over the bag.
He informed them that he was not in possession of any bag with elephant tusks and the only bag he came with from Singalamwe – which he showed the police – contained only a blanket. His version was not accepted by the police.
After falling to find the ivory or make him confess the police proceeded to arrest Muinelo. They took him to a place, called Silolo, where he was severely beaten in an attempt to make him confess.
“They repeatedly assaulted me the whole afternoon from around 13h00 to around 17h00. They twisted my right hand behind my back and tied it to my left leg and continued to assault me and beat me severely the entire afternoon,” narrated Muinelo.
“They also suffocated me by wrapping my head in a plastic bag to a point where I couldn’t breathe. I started bleeding and I passed out. It was only around 17h00 when they stopped assaulting me. By this time I was partially blind and deaf. I could hardly see or hear,” Muinelo further elaborated.
Muinelo says he was later taken to Kongola police station and then to Sesheke clinic in the same area at around 23h00. He says was in immense pain and he could hardly move. After he was treated he was taken back to Kongola police station by the police.
Muinelo claims he could not move and he had to be lifted by the police. He said the following day he was taken back to his village by the police. His family took him to Katima Mulilo Hospital for medical examinations and when he recovered he opened a case against the State.
After investigations he recognised a certain Joseph Mukaxwa to have been the leader of the group that arrested and assaulted him. Mukaxwa was later arrested in January last year. Following court proceedings in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate’s Court, the case was referred to Oshakati High court.
Court documents seen by this reporter states that Muinelo is to be paid N$50 000 in compensation, which will be paid into the Trust account of Muinelo’s legal practitioner within 90 days after the signed agreement.
The agreement, signed by both Muinelo and a representative from Ministry of Safety and Security on March 29, also states that a further N$10 000 will be paid to Muinelo as a contribution to his legal costs, upon the presentation of an invoice by his legal practitioner.
Although the agreement clearly states the document was signed of his own free will, Muinelo says he was forced to sign, as his legal representative advised him at the time to sign the document, or he would apparently walk away empty-handed.
“I didn’t want to sign, but my lawyer said if I won’t sign I might be left with nothing. This money is not enough, I didn’t request to be assaulted and now my body cannot function like before,” Muinelo lamented.
Muinelo, who is unemployed says he can no longer do things he used to do before to put bread on the table, like fishing and farming. His right hand cannot do anything, as it has not fully recovered, and he cannot stand on his feet for long.
According to Muinelo, his legal representative had asked for N$8 million, before settling for N$50 000. He says he wants a minimum of N$4 million as compensation and he wants to take the case to the Supreme Court.