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Legal aid halts witness fees scam trial

2021-07-19  Maria Amakali

Legal aid halts witness fees scam trial
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Legal representation for some of the men accused of working in cahoots with a former public prosecutor to scam the Office of the Judiciary in witness fees is delaying the start of their trial.

“There is nothing outstanding as far as investigations are concerned. The matter is ready for trial. The only thing outstanding is the accused persons’ legal representation,” said state prosecutor Latoya Mukumbo during court proceedings on Friday in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court.

She added that once the accused have secured legal representation, the matter will be transferred to an appropriate court for the trial to commence. 

The case, which dates back to 2016, was provisionally struck from the court’s roll, pending police investigations in 2019, but was placed back on the court’s roll last year. 

The prosecution wants to try  former prosecutor Ivan Tjizu alongside co-accused Eino Kombanda, Sackaria Panduleni, Paulus Fillemon, Today Amoomo, Sam Haiduwa, Andrew Masipa, Benjamin Amoomo, Gabriel Usko, Festus Mweendeleli, Alvin Kuutondokwa, Pendukeni Shikongo, Michael Namene and Isai Nathanael in the matter.The state is also prosecuting Martin Ndepando, Dave Valombola, Oiva Kanime and Leonard Ndjoze for the alleged crimes. The prosecution is charging Tjizu and his co-accused with more than 130 counts of corruption under the Anti-Corruption Commission Act. The charges range from fraud to managing an enterprise conducted through a pattern of racketeering activities, corruptly giving a false document containing false statements to an agent, conducting an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activities, and money laundering.

According to the prosecution, Tjizu was working for the office of the prosecutor general in Windhoek, stationed at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, and conspired with his co-accused in scamming N$410 000 from the Office of the Judiciary through paid-out witness fees. It is alleged that the group fraudulently worked with a web of people in claiming witness fees for people who allegedly travelled from outside Windhoek, and were arranged to pose as State witnesses during court sessions.

As a prosecutor at the time, Tjizu would allegedly misrepresent the witnesses to the presiding magistrate – and as a result, witness fees were falsely claimed and paid out.

Once witness fees had allegedly been paid out to people who were arranged to pose as witnesses, the money would then be shared.

Currently, all of the accused are out on warning, and such warning was extended by magistrate Namwenyo Shikalepo when she postponed the case to 20 September to allow them to find defence lawyers for the trial.

2021-07-19  Maria Amakali

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