Karas blows N$80 000 on suspension of officialsBy: LUQMAN CLOETE
THE Karas Regional Council ran up a bill of close to N$80 000 in legal fees to defend its decision to suspend its top officials, The Namibian has established.
The council suspended its chief regional officer, Saul Kahuika, and planning director Joseph Stephanus towards the end of May, accusing the two of malpractices.
Among the allegations were that close to N$150 000 was spent on a trip to South Korea and millions were lost following the cancellation of sewerage tenders.
The council sought legal advice from private lawyers after the Public Service Commission had declared the decision to suspend the officials null and void. The PSC decision followed its findings that the council had suspended the two against all applicable laws.
On the basis of the PSC rejecting their suspension as illegal, Kahuika and Stephanus ignored the council’s suspension decision and remained in office.
During mid-July the council back-tracked on its decision after the Secretary to Cabinet, Frans Kapofi, summoned council chairperson Jan Scholtz to his office and ordered the lifting of the suspensions.
The Namibian understands that the appointment of Van Rooi Legal Practitioners based at Lüderitz as legal consultants – to formulate charges against the suspended officials and defend the council during their disciplinary hearings – cost the council N$36 730.
It also ran up a legal bill of N$25 724 for instructing Metcalfe Attorneys to do research regarding the applicable laws it had failed to apply in suspending the top officials, and which the PSC had referred to.
The Karas Regional Council also enlisted the services of Sisa Namandje’s law firm for a legal opinion on the suspension saga at a cost of close to N$18 000, The Namibian was informed.
Sources privy to happenings at the council say Kahuika is reluctant to pay the legal bills, arguing that in terms of the pre-independence proclamation all government agencies are compelled to make use of government lawyers.
Kahuika yesterday confirmed that the council’s legal bills had not been paid yet, but declined to comment further.
Council chairperson Jan Scholtz also declined to comment.
“I cannot comment now, because the issue will only be discussed at Friday’s council meeting,” said Scholtz.