Windhoek High Court Judge Orben Sibeya has decided to call two witnesses who made statements to the police days before the biggest drug bust in the history of Namibia at the port of Walvis Bay.
The defence had introduced the statements as evidence after prosecution did not call witnesses Paul Ndefhilile and Linekela Hilundwa, who had made statements to the police before the arrest of suspects Grant Noble and Dinath Azhar. Noble (36) and Azhar (62) are charged with one count of dealing in cocaine. They are also charged with one count of money laundering. Noble and Azhar were arrested on 15 June 2018 following their arrest after a container they imported was found loaded with 412kg of cocaine worth an estimated N$206 million.
The cocaine was hidden between copy paper boxes the two ordered from Brazil via Cape Town to Namibia through the port of Walvis Bay. Azhar has in the meantime been released on bail of N$10 000 by judge Sibeya.
The two statements make mention of Ndefhilile who is a clearing agent in Walvis Bay being visited by “white men” who wanted him to clear a container that had a customs stop order attached to it. He further said he then contacted Hilundwa who is attached to the port security and asked him to join them during their next meeting and pretend that he did not understand. During the subsequent meeting, Ndefhilile said, the white men asked him to clear the container and offered him N$500 000 which he increased to N$2 million.
Ndefhilile further said he refused as the container was stopped by customs and it would be too risky to open it. The men further told him that the container contained drugs, which was situated at the third pallets and that there was also another seal which they can use to reseal the container after removing the drugs. Hilundwa made a confirmatory statement and also said he informed his superiors at the port and that they informed the police.
During the testimony of Noble, he introduced this information to the court and questioned why the court was not made aware of the information by the State. Prosecutor Timo Itula said the State did not deem it necessary as Noble and Azhar were the importers of the container and it was their drugs. Noble and Azhar claimed during their testimonies that they were unaware that their container was used to smuggle drugs into the country.
Noble said that he was shocked, became dizzy and could not believe what he was seeing when the police declared the packages contained cocaine. He further said that the police never investigated the information provided by Ndefhilile and Hilundwa as they already decided he was guilty. After the defence closed their case last week, the judge ordered that Ndefhilile and Hilundwa be summoned to testify. He postponed the matter to 25 and 26 April for their testimonies.
The container was kept under surveillance by port security, police and customs and excise after they received an international tip-off about the large consignment of cocaine destined for Walvis Bay. According to the indictment, the two accused were for all intents and purposes business associates based in Walvis Bay. Noble was the sole owner of Zeeki Trading cc and Azhar his financier, it is alleged.
It is further stated in the indictment that during February 2018, Azhar made an outward payment of US$17 895.60 from Zeeki Trading to an entity called Safety Com. Importadora E Exportadora Eireli EPP in Santos, Brazil under the pretext of buying A4 printing papers for resale in Namibia.