The Swapo leadership in Oshikoto has expressed shock after three councillors, serving on its ticket in Oniipa, were arrested on Monday and charged with fraud.
The party described the situation as a “shocking scandal” after convening an urgent meeting yesterday to acquaint itself with details of the saga and to discuss how to handle the situation internally.
“It is shocking indeed, and we were also not aware, hence the news caught us by surprise,” said regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu.
“We are still digesting the issues surrounding the allegations. However, considering that it is now before courts, I shall not dwell much as it might hinder the processes.”
Amukwiyu further said the party has procedures to follow, therefore, these will determine what action is to be taken.
All three Swapo corruption accused councillors of Oniipa were arrested on Monday and denied bail by the Ondangwa magistrate Makapa Simasiku yesterday, saying they are likely to interfere with the investigations.
The matter was postponed to 7 September, and the accused remain in custody at Onayena police station. They are charged under section 35 (3) (a) and section 35 (3) (b) of the Anti-Corruption Act for using their office for self-gratification as well as providing a false document to an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) agent.
The charges relate to a recruitment process allegedly undertaken in 2018 to which the trio are accused of having favoured an individual who scored the lowest in the interviews.
The first accused is Thomas Matsi (72) a former local authority councillor who served as management committee chairperson, while the second accused is current mayor David Kambonde (47), with his deputy, Hileni Idhogela (43) being the third accused.
Both the accused served in the management committee of the previous council, whose term ended in November last year following the local and regional elections. Kambonde and Idhogela were re-elected to serve for a second term and got elevated to mayor and deputy, respectively.
Matsi asked to be released on bail, arguing that he has health problems, relating to swelling feet as well as citing old age. He said he needs to see a doctor from time to time. “Even when I am standing right now my feet are swollen,” he told the court.
Other attempts by co-accused Idhogela were quashed despite reasoning that she is a teacher and her incarceration will deprive the children an education.
Kambonde’s pleas were also denied. He told the court that he would not interfere with investigations as he is employed to work with orphans and that he has seven children to take care.
The incumbent management committee chairperson, Chief Nangolo refused to be drawn into the matter saying, “you have read what is happening, and that was an issue that occurred during the tenure of the previous councillors.”
Similarly, town CEO Junias Jakob said he was not aware of the allegations until Monday when the trio were apprehended.
“I don’t know what happened. I was not informed by ACC on the arrest and charges. So it will be best for you to explore other options for more details,” said Jacob when asked whether he had full knowledge of the matter prior to the arrest, and the council’s stance on the issue.
Jakob also denied allegations that during a special council meeting held Monday evening, he was pushed by other councillors to approve and release some funds in order to bail the accused.