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Air Namibia’s N$1.1m fraud suspects acquitted

2021-09-13  Maria Amakali

Air Namibia’s N$1.1m fraud suspects acquitted

Two men who were on trial on allegations of attempting to divert N$1.1 million from Air Namibia in 2017 were acquitted of all charges last week in the Windhoek Regional Court. 

Penna Munyunda (33) and co-accused Tangi Amon Namwandi (35) were acquitted after the court concluded that the State failed to prove the allegations against them.

“The evidence before court does not commensurate the alleged charges of fraud and crimes committed under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act preferred on the accused persons,” said magistrate Surita Savage.

The court concluded that none of the State’s witnesses who worked with Munyunda at Air Namibia and played a part in the payments to creditors could implicate him and his co-accused.  

Savage further indicated the witnesses only made highlights on the flaws that existed in the accounting system of the former national airline. The witnesses could also not give evidence of the total loss suffered by Air Namibia and if there were any money recovered. 

Munyunda and Namwandi were acquitted after their defence lawyers Milton Engelbrecht and Jermaine Muchali filed a discharge application for the accused to be exonerated of all charges when the State closed its case. 

 Munyunda and Namwandi were on trial on charges ranging from fraud to theft, disguising unlawful origin of a property, and acquisition, use and possession of proceeds of unlawful activities on diverse occasions.

The prosecution was alleging that Munyunda and Namwandi diverted N$1.1 million that was intended for payments at the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) from Air Namibia in 2017. 

The unauthorised diversion of funds has cost Air Namibia to lose N$289 000, according to the prosecution.

The Namibian police arrested Namwandi and Munyunda on 4 October 2017 after a local bank alerted Air Namibia of a detected dubious diversion of money that was meant for payment to the NAC.  

It was alleged that the transfer was fully authorised and signed off to be paid to NAC when a suspicious request was made to the bank for the money to be transferred to a different bank account other than that of NAC. The two denied guilt at the start of their trial in November 2019.

During the trial, Namwandi, through his defence lawyer Sisa Namandje, at the time, admitted that an amount of N$1.1 million was indeed deposited into his company’s account, held under the name Normma CC at First National Bank. 

He explained that the funds were transferred to the account by Air Namibia. 

Namwandi further admitted that he spent N$289 000 of the said money as he believed that the money was his, paid into his company’s account by his debtors.

The accused, however, denied that he conspired with an employee of Air Namibia in an attempt to steal money that was deposited into his company’s account by mistake.

Munyunda, after taking his plea, opted to remain silent, with his defence attorney informing the court that the State should prove the allegations levelled against him.

2021-09-13  Maria Amakali

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