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Legal adviser takes Nust to court over suspension

Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) chief legal adviser Joshua Kaumbi is suing the university in the High Court in an attempt to force it to set aside his suspension.

Nust vice chancellor Erold Naomab suspended Kaumbi from his position on 28 April on allegations of leaking the university’s confidential information to the media.

“Your suspension will be with full remuneration from the university, with immediate effect from Friday, 28 April 2023, pending the investigations into the alleged misconduct. You will be afforded the opportunity to refute the charge(s) made against you during a disciplinary hearing, should there be any, the date and time of which will be communicated to you,” Naomab wrote.

In an affidavit filed at the court, Kaumbi claims his suspension is unlawful, irrational and unreasonable.

According to Kaumbi, his suspension is vague and does not specify any relevant details of the alleged major misconduct that he allegedly committed.

Kaumbi said Naomab has failed to provide the underlying reasons for his utilisation of the suspension procedure and that he has failed to provide reasons why he formed the opinion that Kaumbi may be guilty of the alleged misconduct.

He added that his suspension is contrary to section 4 of the Public Enterprises Governance Amendment Act of 2015.

“I am a senior manager of the first respondent [Nust]. I am a member of the executive management of the first respondent. I am a person whose suspension is governed by the directive issued by the then minister of public enterprises,” he said.

Nust, through its lawyers Dr Weder, Kauta & Hoveka Inc, has filed a notice to defend Kaumbi’s suspension.

Before Kaumbi’s suspension, the university’s human resource manager, Riette Duvenhage, advised Naomab against suspending Kaumbi on 27 April this year.

Duvenhage, in her letter to Naomab, alleged that the grounds for Kaumbi’s suspension had not been clearly established.
“Mr Kaumbi has lodged a grievance against you. I strongly advise against suspending Mr Kaumbi while the grievance process is still ongoing,” she wrote.

According to court documents, Kaumbi accused Naomab of victimisation, intimidation, witch-hunt and unfair labour practice. Kaumbi made the accusations in a memorandum dated 9 April, shared with members of the university governing council.

Nust spokesperson John Haufiku on Wednesday said Kaumbi remains innocent until proven guilty.

He said Nust has followed the correct internal procedures when suspending Kaumbi.

“The supposition that the suspension was irrational is therefore premature and is a natural reaction by any person who would plead their innocence,” he said.

Haufiku said should the suspension be unfair, Kaumbi would have the chance to prove this and seek the appropriate remedy during a fair hearing.

Haufiku said the university is in the process of completing an investigation into the matter, and Kaumbi will in due time face a fair hearing in line with the university’s disciplinary procedures.


Haufiku admitted that the human resources manager advised against the suspension, while another director advised differently.

He said the university’s regulations are clear, and do not grant the human resources manager or any other director more power than the vice chancellor.

It is the prerogative of the vice chancellor to accept or reject advice, he said.

“He is not bound by the advice he receives from any subordinate.”

Before Kaumbi’s suspension, Haufiku wrote to Nust management on 26 April, accusing Kaumbi of sharing internal Nust documents with the media. Haufiku said the sharing of internal documents puts the reputation of the university at risk, which may cause its partners and public to lose faith in the brand and its governance.

“This should not be treated mildly as it will encourage more staff to emulate this behaviour, and ultimately make the institution ungovernable,” Haufiku said.

He recommended that the executives take immediate restorative or prohibitive action against Kaumbi.

“This email does not imply that any accusations made in the said texts are false or true, it is basically to alert you that the principle on how senior staff is expected to handle such concerns needs to be upheld and enforced. There are legitimate platforms to raise such matters and not in the media,” he wrote.