A Nambian journalist on Friday won a defamation case against the ruling South West Africa People's Organisation after its online publication called him a former anti-independence fighter.

John Grobler, 48, sued the SWAPO mouthpiece newspaper Namibia Today online for calling him an “ex-Koevoet” and a “mercenary” in an editorial in 2009.

The Koevoet, Afrikaans for “crowbar”, was a notorious counter-insurgency police unit under the country's rule by apartheid South Africa, accused of atrocities against the Namibian people.

Windhoek High Court Judge Kobus Miller ordered SWAPO to pay Grobler 300,000 Namibian dollars ($38,000) in damages.

The case listed the party's secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who is also justice minister, as a respondent but the court dismissed the claim against her.

“The second defendant (SWAPO) is held liable to compensate the plaintiff (Grobler) in damages,” Miller said.

Globler said he was never a Koevoet member but had undergone compulsory military service under apartheid rule. He had originally demanded 5.0 million Namibian dollars in damages from the newspaper.

“On legal advice I have reduced the damages claim to 300 000 Namibia dollars,” he said outside court.

In his ruling the judge said that although Namibia has no laws regulating online content, the owner or publishers of a newspaper or magazine were held liable. - Sapa-AFP