• June 1st, 2020

High Court orders ACC to return timber

WINDHOEK - Windhoek High Court Judge Thomas Masuku last week ordered the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ministry of Finance to return a consignment of timber held unlawfully to its rightful owners.

The judge declared the warrantless search and seizure and continued detention of the consignment at Walvis Bay as unlawful and set it aside and ordered the immediate restoration of the consignment to Devil Claw Maramata Investment CC (DCM) after its lawyer Kadhila Amoomo brought an urgent application before the court.

Judge Masuku further ordered the ACC and the Ministry of Finance to pay the costs of the application on the scale between attorney and client.

The consignment in question was Mukula Timber logs valued at US$15 581.31 seized by members of the Anti-Corruption Commission on instructions of finance ministry on 28 December 2017. According to court documents, DCM started sourcing timber from DRC Congo during 2017 and managed to carry out quite a few successful consignments from about January to April 2017.

However, Pedro Ronald Sangoya, the owner of DCM, said in his founding affidavit that during 2017, one of his consignments was detained in Zambia as part of its clampdown on timber sourced from it and was only released during January the following year.

As he has already suffered severe losses because of the detention of the consignment in Zambia, he only managed to have the consignment dropped in Katima Mulilo where it lay stagnant for about 11 months before he could secure enough funds to have the consignment transported to Walvis Bay for export to China, Sangoya stated.

However, he said, this was just the tip of the iceberg, as he was then instructed to first obtain an import licence for the timber from Zambia although it originates from Congo DRC, but he complied and received clearance from the Zambian authorities by means of an asycuda declaration to export the timber.
But to his surprise, Sangoya said, while they were busy offloading the timber from the truck into a shipping container, agents of the ACC accompanied by members of Customs and Excises arrived and told him that the consignment would be kept in a bonded warehouse in Walvis Bay harbour pending an investigation without any search warrants or his permission or any explanation.

This, he said, caused him further unnecessary financial losses already to the tune of N$172 000. 
According to Sangoya, this will soon become unaffordable thereby endangering his entity’s solvency economic livelihood and existence as a going concern. He further said the harm he suffered and continued to suffer will be irreparable if he is not granted immediate relief. Sangoya implored the judge to restore his right and freedom to engage in lawful and profitable business activity in the form of trading in the transport and logistics business as guaranteed in the constitution which is severely compromised by the ACC and finance ministry in that they are unlawfully holding onto what is legally his.

He further said the unlawful conduct of the ACC and finance is encroaching on his rights to property and trade, but also on due processes that must be followed by agents of law enforcement which if not done properly will make a mockery of the constitution and the rule of law.
Thus, he asked the judge to confirm his constitutional rights, which Judge Masuku did.

Roland Routh
2019-11-29 07:55:24 | 6 months ago


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