Artist Madisia Acquitted in Assault Case

ARTIST Joseph Madisia has been found not guilty on charges of assault and defeating or obstructing the course of justice dating from the time he was director of the National Art Gallery of Namibia.

Madisia was acquitted on two counts of defeating or obstructing the course of justice and one charge of common assault in a judgement that Magistrate Justine Asino delivered in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court last week. He denied guilt to the charges when his trial started before Magistrate Asino in October 2011.

Madisia was initially charged only with assault, as a result of a complaint that a cleaner and messenger at the National Art Gallery (NAGN), Ebson Hamauka, had made against him with the police. Hamauka claimed that Madisia assaulted him at the NAGN in Windhoek on 16 December 2009 by punching him on the chest.

Two charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice were later added to the assault charge. That was after Madisia allegedly threatened another NAGN employee, Angela Ntemwa, with suspension or dismissal if she did not provide his lawyer with a statement in which she cleared him of the assault charge, and after he allegedly offered Hamauka N$2 000 in October 2010 if he agreed to withdraw the assault charge.

The magistrate heard during the trial that Madisia and Hamauka were involved in an incident at the NAGN on 16 December 2009 when Madisia loudly reprimanded Hamauka for relaxing and socialising with other people in the foyer of the gallery.

Public Prosecutor Arrie Husselmann argued before the magistrate last year that Madisia ran the NAGN “like a dictator” and that he tried to cover up his assault of Hamauka by offering him a payment of N$2 000 and trying to get Ntemwa to back his claim of innocence.

Defence lawyer Albert Strydom attacked Hamauka’s credibility in his closing address before the delivery of the magistrate’s verdict. Strydom argued that Hamauka was exposed as an untruthful witness when he was cross-examined and that evidence showed that he had trouble with Madisia because he had been taken to task about absenteeism and his work performance. That led to a confrontation between him and Madisia, Strydom argued.

He also argued that Ntemwa threatened Madisia in an email message, which was part of the evidence in the trial, in October 2010, after he had spoken to her about a relationship she allegedly had with a cocaine smuggler. It was after that clash with Madisia that she approached the police to recant the sworn statement in which she had cleared Madisia in connection with the alleged assault, Strydom argued.

He further argued that Madisia could have got rid of the assault charge by simply paying an admission of guilt fine of N$300, which would have still left him without a criminal record for assault. However, Madisia set out to defend his innocence and spent much more in legal fees to fight the charges during his trial, Strydom said. In such a situation the allegation that Madisia had offered Hamauka N$2 000 if he withdrew the charge made no sense, Strydom argued.

Source : The Namibian