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Police accused of meddling in Mupolo civil case

HUMAN rights lawyer Norman Tjombe has written to the police to stop trying to convince the family of the late Hendriena Mupolo from withdrawing a civil case against the man who allegedly ran her over earlier this year.

Mupolo (9) was killed when Johan Meyer allegedly ran her over at Plot K11, at the Hardap irrigation scheme on the outskirts of Mariental in May.

Mupolo’s family and Tjombe last week said the Mariental police are offering Mupolo’s father, Elia Mupolo, a car and money to convince him to withdraw a civil case against Meyer, a Mariental farmer.

Meyer was charged with running Mupolo over, subsequently causing her death, and was granted bail in an amount of N$3 000.

Mupolo and some family members were reportedly picking beans on the farmer’s plot without his consent at the time of the incident.

Tjombe on Thursday wrote to police chief inspector general Joseph Shikongo, saying police officers have allegedly been tasked to obtain the necessary evidence, including witness statements in pursuit of the culpable homicide case against Meyer, but “instead they took it upon themselves to convince our clients to withdraw the civil case”.

“We are informed that certain police officers attached to the Mariental Police Station are attempting to convince our clients to withdraw the civil case against Mr Johan Meyer,” he wrote.

Neither Shikongo nor national police spokesperson deputy commisisoner Kauna Shikwambi responded to questions sent by The Namibian.

Tjombe last week said his client sent him a typed statement that was brought to him by the police last week Thursday, but that the statement he was being asked to sign contradicted his first statement.

“My client disputed the version of events, as he did not meet with the police again after the day his daughter was driven over, to provide the police with a second statement. So we concluded he should not sign that statement as it had elements that would weaken the case,” he said.

Police regional criminal investigations coordinator for the Hardap region deputy commissioner Eric Clay said Shikongo has not brought Tjombe’s letter to their attention yet.

“If this was brought to us we would have started investigating these allegations already,” he said.

Tjombe said it appears that Meyer is not involved, but that the police are doing the bidding on Meyer’s behalf.

Tjombe, on behalf of Mupolo’s parents, in July filed a civil lawsuit against Meyer for N$10,1 million for emotional and psychological damage.

The claim involves N$5 million for each parent, and an additional N$50 000 for their psychological and medical needs, and N$10 000 spent on Mupolo’s funeral.

“Our demand is financial as we feel there must be compensation for this family for the pain and suffering they are experiencing,” Tjombe said.

Hendriena’s father on Thursday said some police officers visited him and offered him a vehicle should he agree to withdraw the case.

“They came today [Thursday] and brought me a form as well which I must sign. I said I do not understand the form, so I will take it to my sister to explain to me.

“My sister then sent the form to my lawyer, Norman Tjombe, and we realised it was a form where I give consent to withdraw the case,” he said.

Meyer appeared in the Mariental Magistrate’s Court in August on charges of culpable homicide, and his case was postponed to 24 November for further investigations.

He appeared before magistrate Lavinia Shilunga, while prosecutor Loide Nghixulifua appeared for the state.

Earlier this year Mariental police investigating officers who were investigating the incident were removed from the case.

This followed after protests from community members who expressed their disappointment with the police, as Meyer was reportedly not arrested by the police, but handed himself over two days after the incident.

Community members also raised concerns over a conflict of interest as Meyer’a wife, Anita, is the town’s deputy prosecutor general.

Prosecutor general Martha Imalwa, however, said Anita was on sick leave at the time of the incident and recused herself from the case.

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