Couple rearrested after court orders release

LOCKED UP … Coenie Botha (right) and Charlotte Murove were charged with 64 counts in connection with an alleged illegal investment scheme after their first arrest a week ago. Photo: Werner Menges

A couple alleged to have been involved in an illegal investment scheme in which depositors placed more than N$160 million were rearrested on Friday, after a Windhoek magistrate declared their initial arrest at the start of last week unlawful and ordered their release.

In a ruling delivered in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, magistrate Dawid Mukuyu declared that the arrest of Coenraad (‘Coenie’) Botha (69) and his wife and co-accused, Charlotte Murove (32), on Monday last week was not lawful, since the police did not have grounds to take them into custody without warrants for their arrest.

Based on his finding about their initial arrest, Mukuyu struck their case off the court roll and ordered the release of Botha and Murove.

Following the delivery of the ruling, however, Botha and Murove were again arrested on Friday, defence lawyer Afrika Jantjies, who is representing them, confirmed yesterday.

They are expected to appear in court again today.

Botha and Murove appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on 64 charges after their arrest at the start of last week. The charges consist of one charge of fraud, 31 counts of conducting a banking business while not authorised to do so, which is a contravention of the Banking Institutions Act of 1998, 31 counts of money laundering, which is a contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, and one charge of conducting a Ponzi scheme, in which money is solicited from investors and earlier investors are repaid with money received from later investors. In the fraud charge, the state alleged that they misrepresented to investors during the period from 2018 to 2022 that they were operating a legitimate business authorised to receive investments from members of the public and that such investments would grow with interest, while knowing that they were not authorised to receive any deposits or investments from members of the public.

It was also alleged in the fraud charge that investors paid a total amount of N$163 million to them. Botha ran an investment scheme which he described as a crypto currency exchange through the company CBI Exchange Namibia, of which he is a director.

The Bank of Namibia and CBI Exchange Namibia have been involved in legal battles in the High Court and also the Supreme Court, with the central bank alleging that CBI Exchange Namibia was taking deposits from the public without having a banking licence that would allow it to receive deposits.

Mukuyu found that documentary evidence showed the police did not initially arrest Botha and Murove on a charge of fraud, for which no arrest warrant was required, but arrested them for alleged contraventions of the Banking Institutions Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, for which warrants of arrest were needed before they could be taken into police custody. The magistrate noted in his ruling that, according to two police officers who testified before him on the arrest of the couple, the police suspected they were planning to flee to Dubai.

According to Botha, though, he and Murove were travelling to South Africa to visit friends.

There was no evidence before the court that Botha and Murove were restricted from travelling, Mukuyu said. He also remarked that freedom of movement is a constitutional right, and that someone cannot be arrested simply for being seen at a border of Namibia. The couple’s arrest was humiliating and degrading, and interfered with their right to freedom of movement, Mukuyu said.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News