11 Sep 2013 08:00
WINDHOEK, 11 SEP (NAMPA) - The Namibian Government was dealt a heavy blow on Wednesday when the Windhoek High Court ordered the suspension of the whole process of the Land Tax Valuation Courts sittings.
The Land Tax Valuation Court was established by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement in July 2007.
Everything is now set to start afresh after the High Court declared the entire proceedings as illegal, which cannot be allowed to continue in its current set-up.
High Court Judge Elton Hoff thus ruled in favour of the urgent application brought by a group of local commercial farmers who wanted the sittings of the Land Tax Valuation Court suspended.
He said in his judgement on Wednesday morning that the applicants non-compliance with the forms and services provided for by the rules of the Windhoek High Court are also condoned.
This application for the suspension of the sittings of the Land Tax Valuation Court is heard as one of urgency, as contemplated by Rule Six (12) of the Rules of this Court, explained Judge Hoff.
He then ordered that the sittings of the Land Tax Valuation Court be declared null and void.
The Land Tax Valuation Court was established by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement in terms of the provisions of Regulation Eight of the Government Gazette Number 120 of the 2007 (GG No. 3870) dated 03 July 2007, and was scheduled for sittings from 30 August 2013 to 13 September 2013.
Hoff further ordered that the legal costs of this successful urgent application by the group of commercial farmers shall be costs in the cause of the main application challenging the constitutionality of the Land Tax Valuation Court, which was already filed by the same group of farmers before the Registrar of the Windhoek High Court on 22 August this year.
In their successful urgent application for the suspension of the sittings of the Land Tax Valuation Court, the Kambazembi Guest Farm CC- a close group of local commercial farmers in the Waterberg area of the Otjozondjupa Region (applicants) - sued the Ministries of Lands and Resettlement; Agriculture, Water and Forestry; Finance, as well as the Attorney-General and the chairperson of the Land Reform Advisory Commission of Namibia, the Commissioner for Inland Revenue and the Land Tax Valuation Court (respondents).
The applicants earlier asked the High Court to declare the sittings of the Land Tax Valuation Court null and void.
As an alternative, the applicants had asked the High Court to suspend the proceedings of the Land Tax Valuation Court until such a time that the constitutional challenge, which was lodged by the above-mentioned group of commercial farmers on 22 August this year, had been heard and decided upon.
During the hearing on Monday, lawyer Joachim Rust, Senior Counsel (SC) Pieter Henning and Advocates Reinhardt Tötemeyer and Raymond Heathcote, who represented the applicants, further argued that the Land Tax Valuation Court was not properly-constituted, is not a court at all, and that their clients cannot be subjected to appear before illegal court proceedings.
Meanwhile, Windhoek-based lawyer, Advocate (SC) Marius Boonzaier, who represented the respondents in the matter, wanted the High Court to dismiss the urgent application with costs against the applicants.
Boonzaier represented the respondents on the instructions of the Office of the Government Attorneys.
He was assisted by Government Attorney Mika Asino.