Jailed doctor describes prison as ‘hell’

Dennis Noa

“It’s hell, it’s horrible.”

This was the description of conditions in Windhoek Correctional Facility given by jailed former trainee medical doctor Dennis Noa when he testified in the Windhoek Regional Court yesterday.

“You are locked in, it’s loud, there are lice,” Noa described his experience of prison life to magistrate Victor Nyazo, who sentenced him to a jail term of eight years on a charge of rape nearly three weeks ago.

“It’s unbelievable,” Noa added, having told the magistrate that he struggled through bureaucratic procedures for two weeks before he could get soap to wash himself with after he was sentenced.

Turning to the medical facility in the prison, Noa said he has worked in villages with better clinics than that of the correctional facility.

He also recounted that it took three days of efforts by himself and fellow inmates before the prison authorities gave medical attention to a prisoner in their unit who had been vomiting and urinating blood.

Noa (29) was testifying in support of an application to be granted bail while he appeals against the judgement in which Nyazo found him guilty of rape on 22 January.

Noa was accused of raping an 18-year-old patient at Katutura Intermediate Hospital, where he was an intern doctor, on 11 April 2021.

The patient was being treated in the hospital following a road accident in which he had suffered a severe head injury.

Noa denied guilt throughout his trial, which started in April last year.

In the judgement in which he convicted Noa, Nyazo concluded that he was the only person who had a window of opportunity to sexually violate the patient.

Nyazo said Noa was the last person known to have come into contact with the patient before injuries were observed in the patient’s anal area. The magistrate also noted that no one knew or saw the hospital porter Noa said he had given the patient to, and from whom he later received the patient back, on 11 April 2021.

Noa told the court during the trial that he handed the patient to a porter, who was supposed to take him for occupational therapy.

The court also heard, though, that the hospital’s occupational therapists were not working on the day in question.

Lawyer Sisa Namandje, who is currently representing Noa, told the magistrate yesterday that at the same time as appealing against the verdict in his trial, Noa will be asking the High Court to review the trial proceedings, based on an argument that “a gross irregularity” occurred during the trial.

Namandje said this is based on the fact that a report on the results of DNA tests done during the investigation of the case was not given to the court as part of the evidence in the trial.

Namandje claimed the DNA test results exonerated Noa.

State advocate Palmer Kumalo did not agree with Namandje’s interpretation of the test results, though, and countered that a report on the test results stated that samples collected from the patient were not suitable for comparison, and that the results were not “negative” as said by Namandje.

The point is that the outcome of DNA analysis done in the case did not implicate Noa, and that this evidence was not given to the magistrate during the trial, Namandje said.

In his testimony, Noa said his trial was a traumatic experience for himself, and he felt the state was malicious in its prosecution of him.

He said he assumed the state would produce the DNA test results as part of the evidence in the trial, but it did not do so.

Noa also said when he asked his then defence counsel, James Diedericks, about communicating the test results to the court after the state closed its case without using the DNA report, Diedericks advised him that it was the state’s duty to prove his guilt, and not his duty to prove himself innocent.

He would like to have his appeal heard as soon as possible, Noa said.

“I have got a career I would like to get to,” he said. “I have things I would like to accomplish.”

The bail hearing is due to continue today.

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