Windhoek-Retired judge Pio Marape Teek lost another court case in which he claimed damages from government agencies related to his child abduction and rape case for which he was exonerated by South African Judge Ronnie Bosielo for a second time, after three acting judges of appeal overturned Judge Bosielo’s Section 174 discharge in the Supreme Court.
Teek was initially discharged by Judge Bosielo in 2006, but the State appealed that decision and three South African judges of appeal – Piet Streicher, Kenneth Mthiyane and Fritz Brand – upheld the appeal and ordered that Teek be put on his defence in the trial.
Judge Bosielo in the end acquitted Teek on all charges.
He then tried to sue the three South African judges for damages, but was unsuccessful and then sued the President of Namibia as the first respondent, the Government of Namibia as the second respondent, the Minister of Justice as the third respondent and the Attorney General as the fourth respondent for recourse in a South African court, which suit was dismissed by Judge Elton Hoff.
Teek however later abandoned the lawsuit against the three South African judges and turned his ire on the minister of justice and the ombudsman for allegedly refusing to help him.
According to him the justice minister and the ombudsman failed to comply with their constitutional and statutory obligations and cost him N$6 million in damages.
“The ground of my cause of action against both defendants is based upon their corrupt conduct: Incompetent, imprudent, intentional, unlawful and malicious due to lengthy delays, inaction and remissness in the handling of the matter, Case No: I 2090/2010 (the case against the South African judges) referred to them, in gross violation of my Constitutional and Statutory/Legal Rights, resulting in my financial loss. As a consequence, defendants are liable to pay me compensation for damages suffered in the amount of N$6-million,” Teek said in his particulars of claim.
He further said that the actions of the minister and the ombudsman were dilatory with the settled malicious intent to prevent him from prosecuting the action against and be compensated for damages by the South African judges and called it “malicious symptomatic institutionalized protectionism” on the part of the minister and ombudsman to his financial detriment.
In his judgement, High Court Judge Herman Oosthuizen said he invited the opposing parties to address him on whether a Namibian court would have had jurisdiction to hear a case against former acting Supreme Court judges.
The plaintiff (Teek) alleged that the Namibian High Court has jurisdiction over the three South African judges on the strength that they were residents of Namibia while they were appointed as Namibian judges.
However, Judge Oosthuizen said there are four factors that determine whether a defendant who is not physically present can be sued. These are the domicile, the residence, the nationality and the presence of property of the defendant within the state.
In the case of the three foreign judges none of these factors was present and the case fails on jurisdiction, Judge Oosthuizen found.
With regard to Teek’s alternative plea that even if he was not successful in claiming damages from the foreign judges, he still suffered damages due to the willful inaction of the minister and ombudsman, the judge said Teek failed to properly motivate this claim.
The judge however found that even though Teek as a former High Court and Supreme Court judge should have been more vigilant in electing between his rights and courses open to him, his frustration with the perceived inaction of the defendants is understandable and as such cannot be burdened with additional costs and ordered that each party bear its own costs.
The minister and the ombudsman defended the action.
Teek represented himself, Advocate Michael Kuper SC assisted by Marcus Nixon appeared for the Minister of Justice on instructions of the Government Attorneys and Advocate Natasha Bassingtwaite represented the ombudsman.