Court name
High Court Main Division
Case number
HC-MD-CIV-APP-ATL 27 of 2020
Case name
Uukelo v Veteran Appeal Board
Media neutral citation
[2021] NAHCMD 95
Case summary:

Appeal – In terms of the Veteran Act 2 of 2008, s 40 – Court finding that no charge of caprice bias or the application of a wrong principle is alleged and proved – Court finding, further, that appellant failed to establish that the Appeal Board misdirected itself on the facts or law – Consequently, court not entitled to interfere – Court, accordingly, dismissed the appeal.

Headnote and holding:

Appeal in terms of the Veterans Act 2 of 2008, s 40. The first-instance Veterans Board rejected appellant’s application to be registered by the Board as a veteran within the meaning of s 1 of Act 2 of 2008 and gave reasons therefor. Appeal Board confirmed the Board’s decision. Board found that appellant failed to satisfy the relevant requirements prescribed by Act 2 of 2008. Court finding no reason to fault the findings of fact by the Board and the Appeal Board’s confirmation of the Board’s decision. Consequently, appeal dismissed.

Judge
Parker AJ

REPORTABLE

REPUBLIC OF NAMIBIA

 

HIGH COURT OF NAMIBIA MAIN DIVISION, WINDHOEK

 

JUDGMENT

 

                                                                                                                                                                                         Case No.: HC-MD-CIV-APP-ATL-2020/00027

 

In the matter between:

 

OIVA UUKELO                                                                                            APPELLANT

                                                                       

and

 

VETERAN APPEAL BOARD                                                                   RESPONDENT

 

Neutral citation:      Uukelo v Veteran Appeal Board HC-MD-CIV-APP-ATL-2020-00027 [2021] NAHCMD 95 (5 March 2021)

 

 

Coram:                      PARKER AJ

Heard:                       26 February 2021

Delivered:                 5 March 2021

 

Flynote:         Appeal – In terms of the Veteran Act 2 of 2008, s 40 – Court finding that no charge of caprice bias or the application of a wrong principle is alleged and proved – Court finding, further, that appellant failed to establish that the Appeal Board misdirected itself on the facts or law – Consequently, court not entitled to interfere – Court, accordingly, dismissed the appeal.

 

Summary:     Appeal in terms of the Veterans Act 2 of 2008, s 40. The first-instance Veterans Board rejected appellant’s application to be registered by the Board as a veteran within the meaning of s 1 of Act 2 of 2008 and gave reasons therefor. Appeal Board confirmed the Board’s decision. Board found that appellant failed to satisfy the relevant requirements prescribed by Act 2 of 2008. Court finding no reason to fault the findings of fact by the Board and the Appeal Board’s confirmation of the Board’s decision. Consequently, appeal dismissed.

 

ORDER

 

 

  1. The appeal is dismissed.
  2. There is no order as to costs.
  3. The matter is considered finalized and is removed from the roll.

 

JUDGMENT

 

PARKER AJ:

 

[1]        This is an appeal against the decision of the Veterans Appeal Board in terms of the Veterans Act 2 of 2008 (‘the Act’). Section 1 enacts the requirements that an applicant for registration as a veteran in terms of the Act must satisfy. Appellant appears in person, having failed to obtain the services of a legal practitioner which was the reason why the hearing of the  matter was postponed in November last year; and Mr Kashindi appears for the respondent.

 

[2]        In the instant matter, appellant’s application to be registered as a veteran was rejected by the Veterans Board (‘the Board’). The Board’s decision, rejecting the application, was based on the Board’s findings that on the facts appellant did not meet any of the qualifying criteria prescribed in the definition of ‘veteran’ in s 1 of the Act. In its decision upholding the Board’s decision, the Appeal Board observed that the ‘Appellant’s activities to the liberation struggle were minimum’. This observation is, with respect, meaningless; and, what is more, uncalled for. I, therefore, pay no respectable look at such unnecessary statement. It obfuscates the issues and adds nothing to the determination of the appeal.

 

[3]        In that regard, I shall request counsel for the respondent to bring these remarks to the attention of the Appeal Board. What is relevant and what can assist the High Court, sitting as an appeal court over the Appeal Board, are the Appeal board’s clear reasons why it upheld the decision of the Board. As Mr Kashindi submitted, what the Appeal Board stated were observations not reasons. But what this appeal court needs and will find useful are the Appeal Board’s reasons for upholding the decision of the Board, not the uncalled for observations that serve no useful purpose in these instant proceedings.

 

[4]        Be that as it may, is trite that a court on appeal will not easily interfere with findings of fact by the lower court or tribunal unless the lower court or tribunal misdirected itself. (S v Simon 2007 (2) NR 500 (HC)) I have no good reason to fault the findings of fact by the Board and as confirmed by the Appeal Board. Moreover, it is trite that if the lower court or tribunal has exercised its discretion on judicial grounds and for sound reason, that is, without caprice or bias or the application of the wrong principle, the appellate court will be very slow to interfere and substitute its own decision. (Paweni v Acting Attorney General 1985 (3) SA 720 (ZS)). The principle has been applied by the court (see, eg S v Kuzatjike 1992 NR 70 (HC); Reuter v Namibia Breweries Ltd Case No. HC-MD-LAB-APP-AAA-2018-00008 [2018] NAHCMD 20 (8 August 2018)). It was also applied in the recent case, concerning an appeal under the Act, of Kamupo v Veteran Appeal Board HC-MD-CIV-APP-ATL-2020/00020 [2021] NAHCMD 46 (17 February 2021). In the instant matter, I find that no charge of caprice or bias or the application of the wrong principle has been alleged and proved by appellant.

 

[5]        I have taken into account the fact that appellant is a lay litigant. It is for that reason that I rejected Mr Kashindi’s challenge that the papers filed by appellant did not constitute a notice of appeal and the letter by appellant did not constitute grounds of appeal in terms of the rules of court. It is well settled that in such situations, the court should consider the substance of the lay litigant’s pleadings and submissions rather than the form in which they are presented. (Christian v Metropolitan Life Namibia Retirement Annuity Fund and Others 2008 (2) NR 753 (SC)) Lest I forget, I should also point out that, pace Mr Kashindi, our rules of practice, eg in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and the Labour Court Rules, do not require an appellant to present his or her grounds of appeal on an affidavit or by affirmation.

 

[6]        I have also taken into account the principle in Paweni. Having done all that, I come to the irrefragable conclusion that I have no reason to reject the findings of fact by the board.

 

[7]        Based on these reasons, I conclude that the appeal cannot succeed; whereupon, I order as follows:

 

  1. The appeal is dismissed.
  2. There is no order as to costs.
  3. The matter is considered finalized and it is removed from the roll.

 

 

---------------------

C PARKER

Acting Judge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPEARANCES:

 

APPELLANT:                                    O Uukelo

In person

 

 

RESPONDENT                                MS Kashindi

                                                            Of Government Attorneys, Windhoek