Dishonest lawyer ‘unfit to stay in legal profession’

Haroldt Kamatuka

A lawyer accused of failing to disclose his criminal record before being admitted as a legal practitioner is at risk of facing fresh criminal charges and being kicked out of the legal profession.

Windhoek High Court acting judge Beatrix de Jager yesterday issued an interim order calling on lawyer Haroldt Kamatuka to show by 5 July why he should not be struck off the roll of legal practitioners in Namibia.

Kamatuka should also show why a case in which the Law Society of Namibia is suing him in the High Court should not be referred to the Office of the Prosecutor General in connection with charges of fraud, theft, perjury and contraventions of the Legal Practitioners Act, De Jager ordered.

The orders were made at the end of a judgement in which De Jager said Kamatuka failed to make a full and complete disclosure to the High Court when he applied to be admitted as a legal practitioner in June 2022.

It is a core duty of a legal practitioner or aspirant legal practitioner to make a full and complete disclosure to the court, the judge said.

Law Society of Namibia (LSN) director Neliswa Tjahikika informed the court in a sworn statement that a lawyer representing the LSN, Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile, in August last year received confirmation from the Namibian Correctional Service that Kamatuka had previously served a term of imprisonment, after he had been convicted on 16 charges of fraud, two counts of theft and two charges of bribery.

Kamatuka was sentenced in March 1999 to a prison term of nine years, of which three years were suspended for a period of five years. He was released from prison after being granted parole in October 2001, the correctional service also informed Katjipuka-Sibolile.

Kamatuka did not disclose his previous criminal convictions to the High Court in his application to be admitted as a legal practitioner.

In an affidavit filed in answer to the LSN’s application to have him struck off the roll of legal practitioners in Namibia, he responded to the allegation that he has a criminal record by declaring: “I have no criminal record in the Republic of Namibia.”

That statement by Kamatuka did not answer the contents of the Namibian Correctional Service’s letter in which his previous convictions and imprisonment were recorded, and also did not respond to the allegation that he failed to disclose his criminal record when he applied to be admitted as a legal practitioner, De Jager said.

She commented: “That non-disclosure, which is a breach of good faith, on its own, is sufficient for the court to conclude that Kamatuka is not a fit and proper person to remain a legal practitioner and [to] strike his name from the roll.”

De Jager added: “The crimes of fraud, theft and bribery are all serious offences involving elements of dishonesty, which fundamentally goes against the standard set for a legal practitioner.”

She also said before being admitted as a legal practitioner, Kamatuka represented himself as a practising lawyer with his own law firm.

Later, in December 2022, Kamatuka accepted a payment of N$3,9 million from a British resident of Namibia into his personal bank account, after he had advised the Briton, who wanted to institute divorce proceedings, that his money would be out of his wife’s reach if it was paid into that account, the court was informed.

The Briton lodged a complaint against Kamatuka with the LSN in March last year, after he encountered difficulties in getting his money returned to him.

According to information placed before the court, Kamatuka used part of the money to buy a house at Okahandja that cost N$750 000, and registered the property in his name.

He also paid part of the money back to the Briton, who is now suing him in the High Court for N$1,35 million and to have the Okahandja property registered in his name, De Jager noted.

Katjipuka-Sibolile represented the LSN when the matter was heard by De Jager in April.

Kamatuka was represented by lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji.

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