Deputy PM Withdraws Libel Claim

DEPUTY Prime Minister Marco Hausiku this week withdrew a defamation case in which he was suing a weekly newspaper and its editor for N$500 000 over two articles that were published two and a half years ago.

Hausiku’s lawsuit against the weekly Confideacutente, the latter’s editor, Max Hamata, and a woman who allegedly was a source for information that led to the publication of two articles in Confideacutente in January 2012 was withdrawn in the Windhoek High Court on Monday. Together with his withdrawal of the legal action against the three defendants Hausiku tendered a payment of N$5 000 to Confideacutente and Hamata to cover some of their legal costs.

Hausiku claimed the two articles, in which Hamata reported allegations that four head of cattle belonging to a female subsistence farmer had been found on Hausiku’s farm, were defamatory as it depicted him unfavourably as allegedly being, among other things, dishonest, a thief, and not fit for public office.

Hausiku further claimed that he was humiliated and degraded by the publication of the two stories and that his reputation, dignity and career had also been damaged.

Comment from Hausiku was included in the articles. His comment included a claim that he had impounded cattle that had wandered onto his farm and that he had denied the herdsmen of the owner of the cattle entry to his farm because they had failed to prove ownership of the cattle.

The alleged source for the stories, Selma Nathinge, admitted in a plea filed with the court that she had spoken to various people about the loss of livestock belonging to her and the discovery of some of her lost cattle on Hausiku’s farm, but denied knowing whether the articles were based on information given by her.

She also denied having made allegations of theft against Hausiku and having made defamatory allegations against him.

Although the terms “cattle theft” and “stolen cattle” were included in the headlines of the two articles, Hamata and Confideacutente denied in a plea filed with the court on their behalf that the articles stated that Hausiku had been involved in cattle theft.

They also denied that the articles were defamatory, and claimed that the statements of fact in the two stories were essentially the truth and the publication thereof was in the public interest.

They further argued in their plea that the publication of the stories was an exercise of Hamata’s right to freedom of expression and of the freedom of the press. Hamata acted reasonably and without negligence when he wrote the articles, it was also argued in their plea.

Source : The Namibian