The Katutura Magistrate’s Court refused to release on bail three Angolan women who were arrested at Hosea Kutako International Airport with more than N$2.2 million in foreign currency, pending the prosecutor general’s decision.
Jorge Neves, lawyer to Angolan nationals Maria Combua (46), Helena Samba Pintal (35) and Beatriz Antunes (47) lodged an application last week to have the court release the accused on bail while the investigating officer was carrying out additional instructions from the prosecutor general.
He argued that the accused have been in police custody for more than eight months and the charges they face are not as serious to warrant continuous detention.
According to Detective Sergeant Erwin Serogwe, the investigating officer in the case, they needed extra time to adhere to the PG’s instructions which are to probe the authenticity of the acquisition of the money, any business registered in the accused’s names and Angolan legislation on the export and import of foreign currency into Angola.
Serongwe who was in favour of the court refusing bail testified that granting bail would defeat the course of justice.
Furthermore, there was a high risk that the accused would flee and not stand trial as there is no information on their physical address in Angola.
“It has become a tendency that our airport is being used to export foreign currency and this has undermined our Namibian justice system,” explained Serogwe
Refusing bail, magistrate Namwenyo Shikalepo said the accused have other recourse should they want to be released on bail. She however gave the State a final remand for the prosecutor general to pronounce herself in the matter. The case was postponed to 6 November.
The group was arrested in December 2019 after allegedly being found in possession of US$150 190 (N$2 162 736), € 6250 (N$1 001 11.05) and N$4 083.
In total, the accused were found with over N$2.2 million.
During the group’s first failed bail application, Serogwe said the accused failed to declare the amount of money in their possession, which the police believe is from illegal activities.
Serogwe said the accused almost got away had it not been for Combua who triggered the scanners with her metal hair clipper.
This prompted immigration officers to conduct a thorough search to determine what had caused the scanners to go off. That is when they discovered the money.
Pintal and Antunes were caught when they went searching for Combua. In their defence, the accused claimed the money is from their different businesses and they had the money as they were on their way to China to buy merchandise for their businesses in Angola.