Land activist Job Amupanda has come out strongly in an affidavit filed in the defamation case in which former attorney-general and now Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala is suing him for
N$500 000 in damages.
Shanghala is suing Amupanda over several comments the latter made on social media and during a symposium in Doha, Qatar, where Amupanda was in attendance.
In papers filed in the High Court last week by lawyer Kadhila Amoomo, Amupanda argued that the tenure of Shanghala as AG – which he said was the shortest in post-independence Namibia –was “marred by direct, persistent and serious allegations of corruption and maladministration by the media, members of the public and public commentators”.
As such, Amupanda said, he merely served as the conveyer of such allegations. According to him, as a social justice activist, he assumed a public duty to speak out against corruption and expose all instances of maladministration and corruption.
“As a result of the aforesaid on a daily basis the members of the public called upon the defendant (Amupanda) as their voice against corruption and to speak out in instances and cases of corruption and maladministration, particularly when such involves public and political functionaries such as the plaintiff (Shanghala),” Amoomo wrote, in papers filed on March 27.
Amupanda further stated it was public knowledge that corruption in the public sector of Namibia has been a corrosive element and has greatly contributed to the eradication of public confidence in public institutions and government agencies.
It is further common knowledge, he further stated, that Shanghala’s name has resonated in many controversial and corruption scandals.
“This action concerns the fight against corruption in general and the importance of academic freedom and freedom of
expression in the fight against corruption in particular,” stated the land activist.
Amupanda said due to various direct allegations of corruption, maladministration and incompetence by the media, members of the public, cartoonists, public academic intellectuals, commentators, newspaper article contributors, and certain senior public officials, Shanghala during his short tenure as AG did not enjoy a good public reputation or estimation other than that he was perceived as corrupt.
He thus denies that the publication of the statements could have lowered the estimation of Shangala in the eyes of the public. He further denied that Shanghala enjoyed any reputation among right-thinking Namibians.
“The defendant further pleads that in view of more direct, serious, consistent and various allegations of corruption against the plaintiff, and his failure in the past to protect his reputation through a court case, the plaintiff, if he in fact suffered any lowering of his public estimation arising from the publication of the concerned statements by the defendant, its (the lowering of Namibia’s public estimation) causa causans (primary cause) was his own doing,” he stated.
He said this is because Shanghala did not earlier and for an extended period seek protection against the more direct and serious allegations in the past by various individuals and institutions, and his own conduct for being continuously involved in matters that are publicly perceived as corrupt and in conduct inconsistent with conduct expected of the attorney-general.
Amupanda admitted all statements attributed to him but said that the statements were not wrong or defamatory of or concerning Shanghala as they were true and or substantively truthful, fair comment and not made with the intent to injure the justice minister.
According to him, Shanghala, because of various media allegations of corruption, was perceived as corrupt by the general public and that he (Amupanda) was simply repeating what was already available within the public domain and the allegations which Shangala was aware of for a considerable period of time.
He further denied that he committed any unlawful conduct and defamation and asks that the action be dismissed with costs.
De Klerk Horn and Coetzee Inc. are representing Shanghala in the matter.