An employee of the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) who allegedly falsely pretended that Covid samples were genuinely tested and resulted in negative outcomes, thereby pocketing N$54 230, made a first appearance before Windhoek magistrate Linus Samunzala yesterday.
Uuika Nuunyango (34) did not plead to charges of fraud and using false documents by an agent. Her lawyer, Nambili Mhata, however, indicated to the magistrate that his client would plead not guilty to the charges.
It is alleged that she wrongfully, unlawfully, falsely and with the intent to defraud gave out and pretended to the NIP and the State that 53 Covid-19 test samples were genuinely tested and results turned out negative, and by means of these false pretences, induced NIP and the State to the actual loss of N$54 230.
It is further alleged that she used her position as an employee to tamper with the said 53 Covid-19 results to reflect a false negative result, and thus committed fraud.
On the second charge, it is alleged that she, employed as an enrolled nurse at NIP, used the false test results to mislead NIP, the State or any other person, and as such is guilty of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, which carries a fine not exceeding N$500 000 or imprisonment not exceeding 25 years, or both.
Public prosecutor Sylvia Kauluma strenuously objected to bail, submitting that the offences committed are very serious, and that Nuunyango abused her position of trust at the NIP. She further said the known consequences of false negative test results are aggravating as the accused enabled 53 persons to travel internationally with false results, thereby placing the lives of not only Namibians but people globally in danger of possible infection with the dreaded disease.
Kauluma further argued that there is an outcry on the devastating effects of Covid-19, and the accused’s actions endangered the lives of countless persons. It is thus not in the interest of justice or the public to grant her bail. She added that the community is crying out at the number of Covid-19-related deaths daily, while the State is struggling to contain the virus outbreak. According to Kauluma, the State is in the process of tracing the 53 persons who were issued with the false results.
Mhata argued that the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and said the bail is of an urgent nature. He informed the court that he would bring a bail application on Monday, as agreed with the prosecution.
According to him, the grounds upon which the State objects to bail are flimsy and weak at best. He added that it is common cause that the objection of the State that the accused might interfere with State witnesses can be cured by putting stringent conditions in place.
The accused is suspended, and thus has no access to the NIP or its files and computers. Furthermore, Nuunyango has a minor child whom she is solely responsible for. With regards to the statement by the State that she put a lot of people’s lives in danger with her actions, Mhata said the NIP issued a statement in which it said that the incidents in no way affected the integrity of the tests, and as she intends to deny guilt, there is also no proof that she indeed tampered with any results.
The matter was remanded to Monday for the formal bail application, and Nuunyango remains in custody at the Windhoek Police Station.