By Sonja Smith | 20 April 2022
A UNIVERSITY of Namibia lecturer and his family want the Ministry of Health and Social Services to pay them N$18 million for failing to take steps that could have prevented the death of his wife who was shot in Windhoek three years ago.
High Court documents filed in November last year show that longtime media lecturer Fred Mwilima is suing the health ministry and a security company which guarded the offices where his wife worked.
The government is defending the case and has denied any wrongdoing.
Mwilima’s wife, Sarah, died in her office in the City Centre building in the central business district when a subordinate, Simataa Simasiku, who was 33 years old at the time, shot her at around 11h00 on 28 January 2019.
She was 51 years old.
Ms Mwilima worked as a management unit director at the health ministry under the Global Fund – an international organisation which funds HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programmes.
Mwilima says his family has suffered emotional shock since his wife’s death, which has resulted in psychiatric injury.
He says his wife could have continued supporting him and their children had she not been killed.
“She would have been able to do so in the sum of at least N$89 400 per month, reflecting the minimum monthly salary she would most likely have earned for the period of 13 years prior to her retirement at the age of 65 – of which N$67 095 is for the family,” Mwilima says.
He says his wife would have supported the family with an amount of N$10 million, which includes 13 years of working leading up to her retirement.
“In addition, the deceased would have received pension and other benefits from the date of her retirement at the age of 65 for the remainder of her natural life in the sum of N$20 000 per month,” Mwilima says.
He says based on the average life expectancy, which currently stands at 32 years, calculated at the time of Sarah’s death, she would have received N$7,8 million during the remainder of her life.
Of that amount, Mwilima and their children would have benefited N$5,2 million, he says.
“Due to the wrongful and unlawful acts we therefore suffered patrimonial damages in a sum total of N$15 million,” he says.
He says the emotional shock and loss of his wife caused him and their children to suffer losses amounting to N$2,2 million.
‘MINISTRY FAILED TO ACT’
Mwilima claims the alleged killer has displayed mental illness since 2015 – four years before the shooting incident – but the ministry failed to investigate the matter.
“The ministry in a negligent and unlawful manner failed to take cognisance of the above danger signs and failed to take any precautionary action, such as any reasonable person and employer would have done, to safeguard the well-being of its employees, including the deceased,” he says.
The symptoms Simasiku displayed, according to court papers, were “delusions and hallucinations”, as well as “constantly hearing voices”.
One of the items listed in court papers, is that Simasiku was of the view that colleagues could read his mind, that he came to the conclusion that Ms Mwilima and the procurement officer had given him instructions to open a forex account, which he did, and in which he found about N$90 million.
Mwilima cited the health ministry as the first defendant, and Vicmic Security Services as the second defendant.
Vicmic Security Services was contracted by the ministry to ensure the safety of the office premises.
Mwilima blames the company for failing to perform its duties.
Simasiku used a pistol to carry out the shooting, according to Mwilima.
After the shooting, he handed himself over to the Wanaheda Police Station.
Simasiku was due to stand trial in the Windhoek High Court, but after his mental health had been assessed by two psychiatrists, who diagnosed him as being schizophrenic, he was found unfit to be tried.
The legal proceedings against him came to an end on 26 October 2020, when a judge ordered he should be detained in a mental institution or prison until the president authorises his release.
The effect of the order is that Simasiku faces detention indefinitely if his condition does not improve, or until a state mental health panel is satisfied he has recovered sufficiently to be released and the president decides to accept a recommendation for his release.
Mwilima this week declined to comment on the case.
The health ministry denied any wrongdoing in their response to the lawsuit filed last month.
“The ministry pleads that it also has no knowledge as to when Simasiku’s mental illness developed, nor does it have knowledge as to the assessment or evaluation done by the psychiatrist, Dr Sieberhagen, and does not have such assessment or evaluation in its possession,” the plea reads.
The health ministry denied putting its employees in danger.
“There are two types of securities in the building, the first type is the securities or security company that the owner of the building uses and where visitors would sign in a book when they enter the building. The other securities are located on the second, sixth and eighth floors where we are renting office space,” the health ministry says.
The health ministry added: “We plead that those securities are located at the entry, from the lift to the corridor leading to the offices.”
The executive director of health and social services, Ben Nangombe, declined to comment on the case.
Mwilima is being represented by Frieda Kishi from Weder, Kauta & Hoveka.
Kishi declined to comment.
The case is ongoing.