Court Imposes N$5 000 Fine

A 48-year-old citizen of Congo-Brazzaville was fined in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court for overstaying his visitor’s permit by seven months and 10 days. Magistrate John Sindano yesterday fined Eloi Richard Ganga N$5 000, alternatively 12 months in prison for overstaying in the country after his visitor’s permit expired on August 29 last year.

In a plea explanation prepared by Ganga’s lawyer, Vetu Uanivi, Ganga explained that he came to Namibia in May last year on a three-month visitor’s permit to visit his Namibian girlfriend whom he eventually married.

According to Uanivi, Ganga has a 14-year-old child who stays in Congo-Brazzaville and he is a cross-border businessman. Uanivi told the magistrate his client is a first offender and had never before been in conflict with the law in any other country.

He said Ganga pleaded guilty to accept responsibility for his unlawful actions and “is extremely regretful”. He asked the court to show mercy on his client and be lenient by giving Ganga a second chance.

According to Uanivi, even if Ganga paid the fine imposed, he would not be released immediately but would be remanded in custody until he appeared before an Immigration Tribunal who would deport him.

Even after that, he said, it could take another three to four months for his client to be deported should he not have the means to pay for his own transport.

According to Uanivi, this is already a type of punishment for his client as he will be in custody pending his departure.

State prosecutor Verinao Kamahene reiterated the objectives of punishment when he addressed the court in aggravation. He said one of the main objectives is deterrence for individuals and in general. He said that the seriousness of the offence can not be overlooked as the courts deal with this type of offence on a weekly if not daily basis.

He said in order to satisfy the objective of deterrence the court has to impose a severe sentence to make would-be perpetrators think twice before they breach Namibia’s laws.

He said while other legal avenues were available to Ganga, he decided to take the law into his own hands.

Magistrate Sindano agreed with prosecutor Kamahene’s argument saying that it was indeed aggravating that Ganga waited seven months to do something about his illegal status.

Ganga was arrested when he went to Home Affairs to enquire about his status after he married a Namibian woman, the court heard. Sindano said the behaviour of Ganga was a sign of disrespect and this could not be condoned.

The prevalence of this offence especially in the Windhoek district calls for deterrent sentences, the magistrate ruled before he sentenced Ganga to a fine of N$5 000.

Source : New Era