The Office of the Attorney General, Sackeus Shanghala, has come out strongly against an article published in the Windhoek Observer last week suggesting that he was considering paying N$40 million to a private aviation firm,
in an out-of-court settlement to bring to an end a dispute between the company and the Tsumeb Municipality.
The Windhoek Observer reported that Shanghala was pondering the payment of N$40 million to Expedite Aviation cc, after it demanded compensation following the arbitrary cancellation last year of a long-standing partnership agreement with the Tsumeb Municipality to jointly develop, control and run the Tsumeb Airport.
“The lawyer assigned to the case still believes Government has a strong case, but it seems he (Shanghala) has already made up his mind on the decision to settle N$40 million,” a source alleged in an interview with the Windhoek Observer last week.
In a strongly worded letter earlier this week, Deputy Government Attorney, Marius Boonzaier, asked the Windhoek Observer to provide proof of the reported claims of its confidential source, failure of which it should retract its article.
The letter was copied to the Tsumeb CEO Alfeus Benjamin, Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa, Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi and Media Ombudsman John Nakuta.
Boonzaier claimed that the gist of the Windhoek Observer article, particularly from the headline, is that Shanghala, in breach of his duties, callously, wantonly, regularly and without regard to the merits of the matters at hand, insists on settling matters in exorbitant amounts to the detriment of the State and in a manner depicting him to be incompetent or otherwise incapable of handling the matters which are under his purview as the Attorney General.
The Deputy Government Attorney denied claims that the AG had communicated to anyone about Government’s intention to settle the matter “out-of-court”, arguing that, Shanghala had previously expressed a different position than the one he was now being accused of holding.
Boonzaier did not say what that view was or when it was said, but added that, “It is important for you to take cognizance that a matter can only be settled between the parties, and an instruction to settle, can only emanate from a client duly advised.
“Further, out-of-court settlement, has always been and will continue to be a consideration in any litigation, and your depictions notwithstanding, will not erase this facet of legal practice from occurring”.
The letter from Shanghala’s office comes as Expedite Aviation owner, Rainier Arangies, told the Windhoek Observer last week that he does not want to get into details of the case as it might prejudice his company.
“Let me refer you to my attorney who is representing me, because we are at the arbitration stage. There is nothing wrong with newspapers reporting this, but I just personally won’t give details as it might jeopardise the case,” Arangies said when asked specifically whether it was true that Government was considering paying his company N$40 million in an out of court settlement.
Shanghala could also not confirm or deny the claims when contacted by the Windhoek Observer last week, only telling this newspaper to wait until the matter has been resolved.
“We are in arbitration because of the dispute. I will not talk about money; I don’t know anything about money. Please wait for the case to be resolved in court,” the Attorney General said.
The Windhoek Observer stands by its story on this matter as printed in our January 19-25 edition.