Namibian mother convicted of fraud in UK

A Namibian woman living in the United Kingdom (UK) was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to five charges of fraud and 12 charges of possessing items used fraudulently.

Junice Tjaveondja (30) was found guilty in the Manchester Crown Court last week.

According to a British publication, she used two fake passports and a string of bogus documents to stay in Britain for seven years.

She was also staying in a four-bedroomed house valued at £200 000 (N$4,3 million).

Prosecutor Antony Longworth explained that Tjaveondja, while in the UK illegally, acquired false documentation to create fake identities for employment and payment.

The case, part of a national investigation into the use of forged documents by organised crime groups, suggests Tjaveondja as a member of such a group.

She is allegedly known to the Home Office as an illegal immigrant and has recently faced legal repercussions in the UK.

Despite being identified in March 2021, Tjaveondja continued her activities.

She reportedly has one daughter in the UK and two in Namibia.

The court heard that various items were seized under different false names, a Dutch fake passport in the name of Grace Collander and a Portuguese one in the name of Junice Antonio.

Other documents found include a bank card, a training certificate, an employment timesheet from a care home, utility bills, a council tax bill and a tenancy agreement.

The authorities also found a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which is a document used by employers to check the criminal record of someone applying for a job.

Tjaveondja reportedly used these false identities to open bank accounts and secure employment in the care sector.

Tjaveondja’s defence claimed she lacked the sophistication to create false documents and was exploited by others.

Her counsel, Nick Clarke, also said she was remorseful and accepted responsibility.

However, judge Peter Horgan emphasised the serious nature of the case, acknowledging Tjaveondja’s exploitation but holding her accountable for knowingly using false documents for employment during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tjaveondja is appealing against her third deportation from Britain.

Attempts to locate relatives in Namibia proved futile.

Okahandja constituency councillor Bethuel Tjaveondja, an elder in the Tjaveondja family, was not able to identify her.

“I seriously don’t know the person, although we might be related based on the surname that we both share. I tried to call around family members, but those that I spoke to, they equally don’t know the person. Maybe the parents or siblings might come forward with more details in due course,” he said.

Namibian high commissioner to the UK Linda Scott said she was not aware of the case when contacted.

She said the Namibian government is working with the UK government to establish a smooth process for the repatriation of asylum seekers whose UK asylum requests have been denied.

“The high commission is aware of several cases of Namibians who have decided to take up the offer of the UK for voluntary repatriation and have requested assistance from the high commission to do so. So far, only one individual has been forcibly returned to Namibia,” she said.

British high commission spokesperson Lwimba Mufune said the high commission does not comment on individual cases.

She did not respond to an inquiry about the progress on the voluntary or forceful deportation to assist people living in the UK illegally, including Namibians who wish to return home.

Those who wished to return were offered a settlement package of N$68 000 at the time.

Those who accepted the offers are automatically banned from seeking entry to the UK for five years, and if they return at their own expense, they will only be banned for one year.

The UK has halted free-visa entry for Namibian travellers because of the exponential number of asylum seekers.

British high commissioner Charles Moore has previously said there is no reason why Namibians should be claiming asylum in the UK, as 91% of asylum claims have been declined since 2018.

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