24 Shaanika cases to start afreshBy: DENVER KISTING
A TOTAL of 24 partly heard cases by axed Magistrate Leah Shaanika might have to start afresh before a new magistrate.
Twelve of these are criminal matters, Magistrate Rina Horn, the control magistrate for the Windhoek district, said yesterday. The Prosecutor General would need to determine what happens to these cases, she said.
Furthermore, there were seven outstanding District Labour Court cases, Horn said.
Three domestic violence cases in the Domestic Violence Court and two partly heard maintenance enquiries would also have to start afresh, she said.
Meanwhile, the Namibia Financial Institutions’ Union (Nafinu) yesterday lashed out at the justice system – especially about labour cases involving four retrenched Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) employees and 11 National Housing Enterprise (NHE) workers.
Asnath Zamuee, Nafinu’s general secretary, said these cases had dragged on for six years.
The implication of Shaanika’s dismissal, Zamuee said, is that all her cases would need to start afresh.
“In our view, this action is tantamount to justice denial as the court was the only recourse for the workers. With this in mind, we call upon the highest authorities, including churches and civil society, to intervene as workers’ rights are being trampled on,” she said.
Shaanika was dismissed at the end of June after a drawn-out court battle between the Minister of Justice and the Magistrates’ Commission.
The fight went up to the Supreme Court.
According to Zamuee, the justice system has left the workers out in the cold. “Are workers considered second-hand citizens and not worthy of fair treatment and a fair trial? Judging from past experience, the court might need another five or six years to finalise these cases.”
Zamuee yesterday also demanded that “this tendency of parastatals fighting workers with taxpayers’ money should come to an end. When we take into account the money spent by Agribank and NHE so far in the last six years on legal fees, it could have built a kindergarten or a soup kitchen for the [elderly].”
She said the money that had been spent on legal fees was much more than the total packages the workers were demanding.
“This action by the employers to rather opt to fight workers instead of settling disputes amicably does not augur well for the building of worker relationships and productivity improvement. It rather destroys and demoralises workers.”