WINDHOEK, 18 JUN – The High Court on Monday dismissed the case in which the Namibia Central Intelligence Services (NCIS) tried to stop The Patriot newspaper from publishing an article pertaining to several properties owned by the service, alleged corruption and malpractice.
The Patriot has now been given the go-ahead with its story, according to Judge Harold Geier who presided over the legal battle.
Delivering his judgement, Judge Geier dismissed the case with costs, meaning that the NCIS has to settle The Patriot’s legal fees in addition to their own.
Judge Geier based his judgement on the premise that laws must never be used as a guise to shield corruption or alleged illegalities.
“My initial reaction was that laws cannot be used to cover up potential illegal and corrupt activities,” he said in his ruling.
NCIS intended to block the paper from publishing an article in which the spy agency is implicated in the misuse of State resources for private gain.
The Patriot alleges that NCIS bought two farms for N.dollars 57 million and a house for N.dollars 8 million that are now being used by former members of the spy agency, all at the expense of taxpayers.
The agency argued the newspaper could not publish the article as it was in contravention of the Protection of Information Act, No. 84 of 1982.
The Act, read with the provision of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service Act No. 10 of 1997, prohibits the possession, disclosure and or publication of information about the NCIS.
Dennis Khama, the NCIS’s legal representative in the matter, also argued that information that The Patriot intended to publish would compromise national security and expose their mode of operation in his closing arguments in April.
The Patriot newspaper meanwhile, was represented by human rights lawyer, Norman Tjombe.
In the defence of his clients, Tjombe said information contained in the article in question would in no way compromise national security and that it was in the public’s interest to know how their resources were being used or misused.
NCIS dragged The Patriot to court on an urgent basis on 11 April 2018. However, nine days later, Geier reserved his judgement on the matter for 30 April 2018, which was later moved to 18 June 2018.