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Strict bail maintained in witness fees scam

2018-09-04  Maria Amakali

Strict bail maintained in witness fees scam

WINDHOEK - The court refused to relax bail conditions of three men accused of defrauding the Office of the Judiciary of over N$400,000 in a witness fees scam. 

Former public prosecutor Ivan Tjizu, 29, Sackaria Mweendeleli Panduleni, 26, and Erwin Desmond Nghutinzo (age unknown) face charges of fraud, theft, corruptly using office or position for gratification, corruptly using a false document by an agent, conspiring to commit offences, racketeering and impersonating a member of the police, which are offences under the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act.

During their appearance in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Ndeshitila Shapumba yesterday, Tjizu and his co-accused had hopes the court would relax one of the conditions as part of their release from custody.

The three wanted the court to relax the reporting condition whereby they are supposed to report themselves every Monday and Friday at the Katutura police station. They wanted to report themselves only on Fridays, citing unemployment, taxi fares and business that need to be attended to as reasons. The three are on bail of N$40,000, N$30,000 and N$7,000 respectively. 

Tjizu and his co-accused were arrested between 2016 and 2017 after the Anti-Corruption Commission lodged an investigation against them for witness fees that were fraudulently paid out.  According to the prosecution, while Tjizu was working for the Office of the Prosecutor General stationed at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, in Lüderitz Street, he 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 together 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. 

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 been paid out to people who were allegedly arranged to pose as witnesses, the trio would then receive part of the money.

Tjizu and his co-accused now await the prosecutor general to pronounce herself on the matter after the court gave a final remand for such. The court postponed the matter to November 23.

2018-09-04  Maria Amakali

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