WINDHOEK - Two Namibians and 12 Angolans accused of defrauding the Namibian government to the tune of N$210 million through false tax refunds on purchases exported from Namibia all pleaded not guilty to charges they are facing.
They face 629 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, money laundering and corruptly giving a document containing false information to an agent.
Their plea was made before Acting Windhoek High Court Judge Kobus Miller and his two assessors, John Mandy and Yolande Böttger, yesterday.
After State Advocate Henry Muhongo read the lengthy indictment containing the charges the 14 will face during their trial that is scheduled to take about eight months to finalise, each accused answered not guilty and did not provide any plea explanations.
All indicated they put the State to the proof of each and every allegation against them.
Charges were withdrawn against two of the original 16 Angolans after they absconded when given bail.
The amount involved in the massive value added tax fraud scam has more than doubled from the initial N$114 million to more than N$210 million it emerged from the indictment document.
It is alleged that the accused were involved in the use of forged tax invoices, VAT claim forms and customs documentation to claim VAT refunds from the Ministry of Finance.
The accused are Mamsy Mweneni Nuuyoma, 28, a Namibian citizen who worked at Aveshe Consultancy, the company managing VAT refunds on behalf of the ministry at the time the frauds were committed who is facing 626 counts including defeating or attempting to defeat the course of justice in addition to the other charges. It is alleged that she stole more than N$3.3 million in cahoots with Lukau Nestor, 56, an Angolan citizen who absconded after getting bail. The second accused is Angolan Citizen Benvindo Momafuba, 48, who is facing 18 charges amounting to N$1.7 million. The third accused is Pembele Zimutu, 52, Angolan, facing 48 counts totaling N$11.3 million. No 4 is Joaquim Pedro Espanhol, 35, Angolan, facing nine counts totaling N$947 399.90. Accused 5 is Joao Manuel Dos Santos, 38, Angolan facing 149 counts amounting to N$172.5 million. Accused 6 is Tatiana Luquena Muchado Gonga, 28, Angolan who is facing one count of money laundering. Accused 7 is Carlos Victor Elisea, 33, Angolan, facing six counts totaling N$2.9 million. Accused eight is 43-year old Angolan Isaac Cativa Cupessala facing 50 counts amounting to N$3.1 million. Accused nine is Paquete Americo Kapayole Jose, Angolan, facing 14 counts totaling N$1.19 million. Malakias Tomas Rufine, 29, is accused 10 facing 18 counts amounting to N$2 million. Accused 11 is Carlos Feleciano Tchinduku, 27, Angolan, facing five counts amounting to N$489 212.40. Accused 12 is Miapa Aurelio Nelson, 32, Angolan, facing 61 counts totaling N$4.6 million. Accused 13 is Lucio Jose Cazembe, 43, Angolan, facing 157 counts amounting to N$7.4 million. Accused 14 is Noah Boykie Naukosho, 28, Namibian facing six counts amounting to N$2.4 million.
Each accused will be prosecuted on certain accusations only, according to the charge sheet.
Advocate Winnie Christiaans is representing Nuuyoma, Vetu Uanivi is on record for Nestor, Momafuba and Eliseu; Trevor Brockerhoff for Zimutu, Cupessala, Jose and Nelson; George Neves for Gonga and Rufine and Mekumbu Tjiteere for Tchinduku and Cazembe, Kalundu Kamwi is representing Dos Santos, while Naukosho is representing himself.
All the accused except Nuuyoma, Nestor, Momafuba, Zimutu, Gonga, Cupessala, Cazembe and Naukosho are in custody.