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Walvis card ‘abusing’ councillor suspended

2018-10-18  Eveline de Klerk

Walvis card ‘abusing’ councillor suspended

WALVIS BAY - Walvis Bay’s Swapo municipal councillor Simson Nghilumbwa, who is also chairperson of council’s management committee, has been placed on a 30-day suspension to pave way for an investigation into his alleged abuse of his official municipal credit card to the tune of N$83 000 in five months. 

The suspension is allegedly to allow council to do a thorough investigation into Nghilumbwa’s spending, which according to a document shared with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) last month, includes unauthorised ATM withdrawals, alcohol purchase and accommodation – for two – at a guest house.
ACC chief investigator Nelius Becker yesterday told New Era upon inquiry that they are “actively” investigating allegations made in this regard against Nghilumbwa.

“I can confirm that we’re actively investigating the matter since we received it. That’s all I’m prepared to say for now,” Becker said.

While the credit card has a credit limit of N$20 000 monthly, records show that Nghilumbwa almost used the card to the fullest limit during the months of May, July and August.

The remaining balances for those months were N$97, N$41 and N$88 respectively.
Information shared with the ACC, which include printouts of alleged transactions, shows that between 24 April and 3 May, N$6 000 cash was withdrawn from ATM machines in Windhoek and Swakopmund.
New Era was informed that procedurally, municipal corporate credit cards may not be used for cash withdrawals. Where swiping facilities do not exist, receipts for official transactions must be kept.

“N$840 was used to pay for a private accommodation facility (double room) at Winnie Guesthouse in Windhoek,” a whistle-blower told ACC in a letter dated 25 September 2018.

In May, a total of N$18 000 was withdrawn as cash at ATMs, while over N$1 900 was swiped at a coffee shop.

N$14 700 was withdrawn in cash in June and N$19 400 was withdrawn in July. In the first two weeks of August, N$19 911 was spent from Nghilumbwa’s credit card, documents allege.

In total, between 24 April and 15 August, usage of the councillor’s credit card amounted to N$83 660.96.
It is not clear how much of this was spent on official municipal business.    

Yesterday, spokesperson of the Walvis Bay municipality Kevin Adams said that council was first to approve the minutes of the final meeting that decided on Nghilumbwa’s suspension, before the announcement is made public. As chairperson of the management committee, Nghilumbwa was issued with a credit card for official council related expenses. But his spending, including at various casinos in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, has raised eyebrows on whether the card has been used for intended purposes.  It is alleged some of the charges on his card were for repeatedly attempting to use the card despite insufficient funds being available. Some officials within the municipality told New Era that Nghilumbwa is currently in the process of desperately attempting to pay back some of the funds.

It could not be confirmed how much he has paid back so far.
New Era understands that the municipality has resolved to consult with their line ministry regarding Nghilumbwa’s position at council.

Nghilumbwa’s fate was already sealed on Monday evening during a lengthy council meeting, that allegedly also caused friction among councillors who did not agree on whether to suspend him or not.
Nghilumbwa yesterday told New Era that he was busy preparing for a meeting and would thus not comment.

2018-10-18  Eveline de Klerk

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