Supreme Court of Namibia



The Supreme Court of Namibia is the highest court in the
judicial system The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and applies the law ...
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and ...
. It is the court of last resort and the highest
appellate court A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much o ...
in the country. It is located in the city centre of Namibia's capital city,
Windhoek Windhoek (, , ) is the capital and largest city of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around above sea level, almost exactly at the country's geographical centre. The population of Windhoek in 202 ...
. A Supreme Court decision is supreme in that it can only be reversed by an Act of
Parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries. T ...
that contradicts it, or by another ruling of the Supreme Court itself.


Namibia's Supreme Court was founded on 21 March 1990, the day of Namibian Independence. Although it has the Supreme Court of
South West Africa South West Africa ( af, Suidwes-Afrika; german: Südwestafrika; nl, Zuidwest-Afrika) was a territory under South African administration from 1915 to 1990, after which it became modern-day Namibia. It bordered Angola ( Portuguese colony before ...
as its predecessor, the latter was not a supreme court in the sense that appeals against its rulings would be allowed; the ''Appellate Division'' of the Supreme Court of South Africa would hear those, and they would be prosecuted by the Supreme Court of South-West Africa.

Court building

At its inception in 1990, the Supreme Court did not have its own building. The Supreme Court building, situated in Michael Scott Street on Eliakim Namundjebo Plaza in central Windhoek, was built between 1994 and 1996 as an "imposing and functional building" to represent "the integrity and soul of the ..Constitution". It was designed in a north African style in order to avoid resemblance of European colonial buildings, and it is Windhoek's only building erected post-independence in an African style of architecture. The building was constructed to contain two court rooms, four offices for justices, and a law library on the first floor. Erection and design of the building involved extensive geotechnical investigations because it is situated on top of a geological fault.

Mandate and power

The mandate and powers of the Supreme Court are regulated by Articles 78, 79 and 138 of the Namibian Constitution. It hears appeals against High Court decisions and matters referred from the
Attorney General In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general (sometimes abbreviated AG or Atty.-Gen) is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have exec ...
, particularly those that concern constitutional matters. It can also hear matters referred to it by parliamentary authorisation. The Supreme Court regulates its own procedures and makes Rules of Court. A Supreme Court decision can only be reversed by an Act of Parliament that contradicts it, or by another ruling of the Supreme Court itself.

Structure and appointment

The Chief Justice of Namibia presides over the Supreme Court. They are supported by Judges of Appeal. All Supreme Court judges are appointed by the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese fu ...
on recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission. The Chief Justice is His Lordship Peter Shivute.

Notable cases

*In 1991, the court confirmed the prohibition of corporal punishment at state schools. It also clarified that this prohibition applies independent of parent's approval or disapproval of the measurement, and even if the pupil themselves agree to be punished in this way. *In 2001, when deciding a state appeal on a granted residence permit (''Chairperson of the Immigration Selection Board v Frank and Another''), the court noted: "The homosexual relationship, whether between men and men and women and women, clearly fall outside the scope and intent of Article 14" of the Constitution of Namibia (protection of the family). *In a civil matter spinning off from the Caprivi treason trial the Supreme Court of Namibia ordered government in 2002 (''Government of Namibia and Others v Mwilima and Others'') to provide the treason suspects with legal representation. In 2010 the court was again involved in this trial, ruling (''State vs. Malumo and 24 Others'') that confessions from 25 accused are inadmissible before the High Court in Windhoek due to the occurrence of "coercive actions" at the hands of Police or military to obtain the testimonies. *In 2009, the Supreme Court found that a 2000 agreement on the expansion of the coastal holiday settlement of Wlotzkasbaken (''Erongo Regional Council and Others v Wlotzkasbaken Home Owners Association and Another'') was unilaterally and unlawfully changed by the Erongo Regional Council, and decided in favour of the home owners. *In November 2014, the court upheld a decision by the High Court in '' LM & Others v Government of Namibia'' that three women had been coercively sterilised in state hospitals. *In February 2020, the court ruled on a case emanating from the
2019 Namibian general election General elections were held in Namibia on 27 November 2019. Ballots were cast using electronic voting. A total of eleven candidates ran for the presidency and fifteen political parties contested the National Assembly elections. Hage Geingob of ...
. It resolved that the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) without a Verifiable Paper Trail (VPPT) contravenes the Electoral Act of 2014, and that the decision to use EVMs without providing the paper trail as required by the act, is unconstitutional because it violates the
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflic ...
. The court, however, declined to set aside the elections carried out using such failed process, as there were no indications the devices were tampered with. This has attracted some controversy.


Further reading

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Supreme Court of Namibia Judiciary of Namibia Buildings and structures in Windhoek
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and ...