Swapo backbencher Tobie Aupindi has approached the High Court in an attempt to have his conviction and sentence imposed by the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in 2018 reviewed.
Aupindi alongside businessman Antonio di Savino are claiming magistrate Helvi Shilemba failed to properly evaluate all of the evidence presented before her in arriving at her verdict.
In their notice of appeal, the two are claiming Shilemba erred in law in finding that deterrence in the matter can only be achieved through a harsh sentence and in doing so she overemphasised the element of deterrence in sentencing. “The learned magistrate erred in law and/or facts in not having imposed a less severe fine when such alternative was available given the facts of the particular case,” reads the notice of appeal. In October 2018, Shilemba convicted Aupindi and Di Savino on the main count of corruptly providing false information to an authorised officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and an alternative count of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. Shilemba consequently sentenced them to pay a fine in the amount of N$50 000 or spend 30 months in prison each. The charges emanate from a swimming pool that was built at Aupindi’s residence on 25 Kestrel Street in Windhoek’s Hochland Park. It is alleged Di Savino paid N$50 000 for the swimming pool in exchange for tenders for the refurbishment of the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) facilities in several parts of the country. It is alleged that at the time the pool was installed, Di Savino was doing business with NWR where Aupindi was employed as managing director. Prosecution alleged Aupindi provided false information to the ACC’s investigative officer, stating that he had paid for the swimming pool himself via a cash payment to a local company. The court found this was not the case. During the trial, a witness who installed the swimming pool at Aupindi’s residence informed the court Aupindi paid in cash for the installation. The case was on the court roll for many years before their conviction after it was put on hold for them to appeal against Shilemba’s decision not to recuse herself from their corruption trial for perceived bias. The matter was dismissed both in the High Court and Supreme Court. The two courts came to the conclusion that Aupindi and Di Savino had failed to establish the facts necessary to confirm bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias. In the current appeal, the State has given notice of intent to oppose the application. The matter has been set down for mentions roll on 28 January 2021. The two men are being represented by local lawyer Richard Metcalfe.