Katjaimo remains resolute in his stance that the purpose of the trip was to support the Namibian team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, opposing the narrative that they had intended to seek asylum in the UK.
“Oh, how we dreamed of standing together, proud and united, as we cheered for our athletes, showcasing the spirit and resilience of our great nation. We wanted to be there, on that global platform, to demonstrate our unwavering support for our talented sportsmen and sportswomen. However, our aspirations were shattered, our dreams crushed, and our journey came to an abrupt halt,” the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) councillor said.
In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, their journey came to an abrupt halt as immigration officials conveyed that they lacked the necessary documentation and background required to participate in an event as prestigious as the Commonwealth Games.
The majority of the “sport lovers” were unemployed young people and didn’t have means of income nor do they have academic qualifications.
Some members of the travelling crew, who New Era have previously spoken to, have solicited funds from family members while others have sold their personal belongings just to go see the world-class games.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. I was looking forward to visiting the UK and seeing Christine Mboma running in person,” one of the victims, Ivone Tjisemo told New Era few months ago.
Tjisemo’s trip was funded by her mother and uncle.
In the same post, Katjaimo said they were stripped of their dignity and their dreams were snatched away.
“The accusations hurled at us were unjust and unfounded, as we stood there, falsely branded as illegitimate visitors to England. Our hearts sank as the weight of disappointment bore down upon us, shattering our hopes for an unforgettable experience,” Katjaimo stands his ground.
He said, the team didn’t only lose more than just an opportunity; they lost a significant sum of money. In his estimation, approximately N$7 million.
This is however contrary to calculations New Era made.
Every member of the 198 would-be travellers had to pay N$65 000, which amounts to N$12.8 million.
“The burden of this financial loss weighs heavily upon my shoulders, for as the organiser of this trip, I feel responsible for each and every one of you who put your trust in me. I apologise to every member of the Katutura Central supporters club and their families who placed their faith in me. I am sorry for the shattered dreams, the financial loss, and the emotional toll this journey took upon you all. Please understand that I had no control over the actions of the British border force, nor could I have foreseen the obstacles that lay ahead,” he further apologised.
To mend healing wounds, Katjaimo called on unity and “rekindle the flame within our hearts”.
“But let us not be defined by our failures; let us rise above them. In the face of adversity, we must find strength and unity,” he pleaded.
As Katjaimo aspires to start anew and leave his past behind, a driver in his office, Anton Tuahepa, told this paper that information available to the public only represents half of the actual events that transpired.
He claimed that the authorities had blocked Katjaimo’s trip even before the fly tickets were booked. Nevertheless, he alleged that Katjaimo continued to receive funds from desperate victims, fully aware that his mission had already failed.
Tuahepa said he had witnessed the arrangements for the trip and was aware that it would inevitably fail, however, he chose to remain silent out of fear of revealing his senior’s involvement.
“He just wanted to make money from desperate and vulnerable people. There was no accommodation booked, no tickets for the venue. Before they even travelled, he already started spending money,” he said.
Tuahepa said that approximately 400 people were interested in the scheme but ultimately only 198 proceeded with it.
The others withdrew their participation upon realising certain inconsistencies.
Initially, when the scheme began, participants were apparently required to pay varying amounts - some paid N$45 000 and some N$55 000.
Later on, the amount was raised to N$65 000. However, due to financial constraints, Tuahepa said some participants couldn’t afford the additional funds, leading to a refund of their initial payment with a 10% deduction.
“There are two accounts of the constituency office that he (Katjaimo) opened and a day before the trip, he requested that money to be transferred into his personal account, using a letter with the Khomas Regional Council letterhead. This is how majority were scammed,” he said.
Asked on this matter, Katjaimo who sounded emotional, said as elections are approaching, people will do everything in their power to tarnish his name.
Defending himself, Katjaimo said funds were transferred to his personal account because initially, close to 500 people registered for the trip and some people kept withdrawing from the trip.
“So, the reason the money was transferred into my account is to make it easier to refund those people. Instead of keeping going to the bank all the time,” he clarified.
Katjaimo also refuted claims that those refunded before the trip were charged 10%.
“That is a lie. It was only 4% because of bank charges and those things,” he said.
Tuahepa, who also claimed four of his family members were affected, has apparently reported the matter to the ACC.
About 30 victims are represented by lawyer Norman Tjombe.
When asked on the matter, Tjombe said he is still waiting for more information from the victims.
“I am not aware of a complaint reported to the ACC by those who paid their money into the various accounts in question. I, however, would have expected them to report such matter to the police, either on charges of theft or money-laundering, whatever the offence was committed,” said Paulus Noa, director general of the ACC, when asked about the case.