Pensioner could lose house as liquidators chase Nawatiseb

Engel Nawatiseb

A Windhoek pensioner hoping to enjoy his retirement years in his home, now faces the threat of losing the house he bought from SME Bank beneficiary and ex-deputy minister Engel Nawatiseb.

Pensioner Godfrey Makumbi bought the house from Nawatiseb in November 2017 for N$1,2 million for his retirement. This was the same year the bank was shut down by the Bank of Namibia.

Now, the pensioner could be left without a house. Liquidators of the SME Bank are accusing the former deputy minister of “orchestrating a scheme” and “rushing” to sell the house while the bank was being liquidated.

Liquidators are chasing after the former deputy information minister, Nawatiseb, to recover funds amounting to N$2,8 million – including N$1,4 million which he used to buy a house that he controversially sold to a pensioner.
Nawatiseb has denied any wrongdoing.

Court documents in possession of The Namibian show that Nawatiseb received N$2,8 million from the SME Bank between 2015 and 2018 – which comprises a N$1,4 million mortgaged bond loan, N$280 000 loan, N$774 800 loan and N$368 900 loan.

The mortgage loan, according to documents, was used to buy a house in Khomasdal, with an agreement of being paid back in five years at monthly instalments of N$30 000.

Nawatiseb’s wife, Lina Nawatises, is cited as a second defendant.

“The parties agreed that the couple shall not transfer or encumber the mortgaged immovable property or any of their assets without the written consent of the SME Bank,” liquidators said.

Records from the Deed’s Office at the lands ministry show that the couple bought the house in August 2015 for N$900 000. It measures 350 square metres.

Liquidators accused Nawatiseb of rushing to sell the house, amid bank repossession.

“The couple, with the intention to frustrate the SME Bank’s contractual rights under the agreement, unlawfully facilitated the transfer of the immovable property to Godfrey Makumbi, transferred the immovable property to Makumbi and orchestrated a scheme through which they would frustrate the SME Bank’s rights in the agreements,” liquidators said.

Liquidators claim that at the time of selling the property, the house was still an asset to the bank.

“At the time when the purported deed of sale agreement between the first, second and third defendants was concluded, the immovable property was already encountered to the plaintiff by the first and second defendants,” liquidators said.

Liquidators also cited the Deeds Office as the fourth defendant and Makumbi as the fifth defendant.

“The Deed’s Office and Makumbi should and must have been aware that the property had already been mortgaged to the SME Bank by the couple, that the purported sale of the property to Makumbi was fraught with illegalities, that the couple’s title [deed] which they purported to transfer to the Makumbi was defective,” court papers read.


Liquidators have now launched a case for the re-transfer of the property back to Nawatiseb so that it is executed for the loan.

“They (liquidators) are also busy with the process to institute the eviction of the pensioner who bought the house from Nawatiseb,” a source close to the matter told The Namibian.

President Hage Geingob appointed Nawatiseb as the deputy minister of public enterprises in 2015, until February 2018, when he was moved to serve as the deputy minister of information.

In the couple’s court responses, submitted in the Windhoek High Court, Nawatiseb argued that at the time of selling his house, he had been given consent by his personal banker at the SME Bank to sell the property.

“Nawatiseb had made inquiries as to whether he was free and authorised to sell or dispose of the property to which the personal banker in the employment of the SME Bank, without any reservation of whatsoever nature gave an oral consent to do so.

“Having received the said consent and there being nothing inhibiting further the sale, Nawatiseb sold the property to an innocent third party,” the plea reads.

Makumbi could not be reached for comment,

He applied for legal aid assistance through the Ministry of Justice in April 2022. The assigned lawyer for his case, Matilda Jankie-Shakwa, did not comment on the matter, citing confidentiality.


Nawatiseb served as the mayor of Tsumeb from 2006 to 2010, and deputy mayor in 2005, and a member of the management committee in 2004.

In an interview with The Namibian yesterday, Nawatiseb initially admitted taking out the loans to buy a running company.

“These loans were being deducted from my salary and from the income of this company. The house was not bonded. I bought it cash. But when the bank realised that we sold the house, they started the court process,” Nawatiseb said.

“The court summoned us, and we went to tell our story and the matter was resolved,” Nawatised further said.

Documents show, however, that the matter is not resolved.

Nawatiseb said he does not know for sure whether he paid off the SME Bank loans.

But in a separate interview, Nawatiseb changed his version, saying he did not receive any funds from the bank.

“I never received a cent from SME Bank. What happened was that the bank bought a company called TV and DVD Production CC to [sic] H Oberholzer for N$1,4 million. Then the bank deducted the funds (which I have proof of) in three instalments – one N$500 000, another N$500 000 and finally N$400 000,” he said.

Nawatiseb said this company does not belong to him.

“I only signed a surety for the company loan to assist the group of people – who I will not mention here,” Nawatiseb said.

The SME Bank was created when Geingob was trade minister. The bank was shut down in 2017. In October 2020, the Windhoek High Court found that the Zimbabwean banker and minority shareholder, Enock Kamushinda, and his associates had allegedly looted the bank to the tune of hundreds of millions of Namibian dollars, that were routed through South African, Zimbabwean and Namibian entities.

More than 200 Namibians lost their jobs when the bank closed in July 2017.

Nawatiseb recently made an abrupt reversal in his political allegiance. Two months ago, he switched to the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) – a move that lasted less than a month.

He returned to Swapo in early March and is now campaigning for presidential candidate Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.


This story shows how the plunder of the SME Bank has wider consequences on ordinary Namibians who are left to pick up the pieces from the collapse of the bank, which is seemingly being ignored by the police and prosecuting officials over six years after the scandal was exposed.

This story was produced by The Namibian’s investigative unit. Send us story tips via your secure email to:

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