WINDHOEK – After several postponements, the verdict in the trial of former Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Managing Director Tobias Aupindi and his co-accused Italian business partner Antonio di Savino is due to be handed down today in Windhoek Magistrate’s Court.
Magistrate Helvi Shilemba is set to deliver judgement in the fraud case that has been on the judiciary’s court roll for several years. The case has been postponed in the past several times for judgment.
In February 2012, Aupindi and Di Savino went on trial before Magistrate Shilemba on a charge of corruptly providing false information to an authorised officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and an alternative charge of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. All charges fall under the Anti-Corruption Act.
The allegations that resulted in the two businessmen winding up in court emanate from a swimming pool that was built at Aupindi’s residence on 25 Kestrel Street, Hochland Park. It is alleged that Di Savino paid N$50 000 for the swimming pool in exchange for tenders for the refurbishment of NWR resorts in several parts of the country.
It is alleged that at the time the pool was installed, Di Savino was doing business with Namibia Wildlife Resorts, where Aupindi was still in charge.
The state allege that Aupindi provided false information to the ACC’s investigative officer, stating that he had paid for the swimming pool himself in cash to a local company that install swimming pools when in fact he did not.
During the trial, a witness who installed the swimming pool at Aupindi’s residence informed the court that Aupindi paid in cash for the installation.
In February 2013, the pair asked that Shilemba recuse herself from the matter citing that she will be biased against them, an application Shilemba turned down. Aupindi and his co-accused went on to appeal both in the High Court and Supreme Court where their application was turned down. The two courts agreed that there was no proper evidence before them (the courts) that showed any grave injustice or failure of justice was likely to occur if the trial proceeded before Magistrate Shilemba.