Ex-employee must pay back N$530 000 scammed from NSFAF

A former employee of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) devised a scheme to channel close to N$530 000 from a NSFAF account into bank accounts of someone not eligible to receive financial assistance from the fund.

This was one of the findings made in a judgement that judge Boas Usiku delivered in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.

Usiku granted a judgement for the payment of N$529 250 in favour of the NSFAF against a former employee of the fund, Tomas Konghola.

He also ordered that Konghola pay interest at an annual rate of 20% on the amount of N$529 250 until that amount has been paid to the NSFAF, and should pay the fund’s legal costs in the case heard in the High Court.

The judgement was given in a civil claim the fund filed against Konghola in July 2021.

Konghola was employed by the fund from November 2014 until March 2021, when he resigned while facing disciplinary proceedings.

Before his resignation, he had been suspended in October 2020 from his position as a payments officer, while the fund was investigating payments made by the fund and in which Konghola had been involved.

Usiku recounted in his judgement that evidence placed before him shows from October 2016 to April 2019 a total amount of N$529 250 had been paid by the NSFAF to accounts in the name of one Nelson Sheefeni.

The payments were prepared by Konghola and authorised by other, more senior employees of the fund.

The uncontested evidence of two NSFAF employees who testified before him was that Sheefeni was not a legitimately funded student of the fund and was therefore not eligible to receive any financial assistance from it, Usiku recorded in his judgement.

He also noted that payment requisition documents prepared by Konghola represented Sheefeni as being a legitimately funded student of the NSFAF, studying at the International University of Management in Windhoek, but having different student numbers, studying different courses and with different identification card numbers.

Other payment requisition forms prepared by Konghola reflected the names and details of legitimately funded students of the NSFAF, but also contained the bank account details of Sheefeni.

Usiku remarked: “From the evidence on record, it is apparent that it is not a coincidence that the aforesaid requisition documents were prepared in the way that [Konghola] prepared them.”

He added that he accepted the evidence of two witnesses showed Konghola “devised that scheme and was instrumental at every stage of its development with a view to ensure that money from the bank account of the plaintiff [the NSFAF] is channelled into the accounts of Nelson Sheefeni”.

Usiku also said he accepted that the evidence before him pointed “overwhelmingly” to the fact that Konghola was at all material times aware he was making false representations to the fund with the payment requisition documents he prepared and that he intended that the fund should act on those false representations.

Konghola’s “blunt denials” that he did not know the representations were false and that he merely relied on information provided to him are rejected as false, Usiku said.

He continued that there was also uncontested evidence from a witness that during the time of his employment at the fund, payments Konghola received in his bank accounts exceeded his earnings from the NSFAF by about N$2,56 million.

Konghola told the court that apart from his employment at the fund, he was selling second-hand cars and running a bar, from which he earned extra income.

He did not declare his extra income to the fund because his private business ventures were not registered, he said.

On this issue, Usiku said it was apparent that while employed by the fund, Konghola “was able to receive vast sums of money without any known legitimate additional source of income”.

The NSFAF was represented by lawyer Francois Bangamwabo during the hearing of the case.

Mbanga Siyomunji represented Konghola.

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