RCC fraud, corruption trial sentencing at end of July

Kelly Nghixulifwa

Nghixulifwa and a co-accused, Hafeni Nghinamwaami, who was convicted of fraud on Monday, will be sentenced on 30 July, judge Christie Liebenberg said at the end of a presentence hearing in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

During the hearing, defence lawyer Veiko Alexander, representing Nghixulifwa, argued that Nghixulifwa did not personally benefit from any of the offences of which he was convicted and was not motivated by greed when the offences were committed.

Nghixulifwa (66) told the judge on Wednesday, when he testified in mitigation of sentence, that the charges he faced have had a severe impact on his life and reputation.

He said he has spent about N$3,5 million on lawyers’ fees since he was suspended from his position at the state-owned RCC in 2006, and still owes about N$600 000 to lawyers.

Since the end of his four-year tenure as chief executive officer (CEO) of the RCC at the start of 2007, he has faced financial hardship that resulted in him losing all of his immovable properties, including his family home in Windhoek, Nghixulifwa said.

He is now renting a flat in Windhoek, he added.

Nghixulifwa recounted that he studied engineering in South Africa during the 1980s and afterwards worked for a diamond mining company and NamPower, before he was appointed as CEO of the RCC near the end of 2002.

After he left the company, and after he was criminally charged in early 2014, he lost business partners who came to see him as a liability rather than an asset, he told the judge.

“I’m so to say living from hand to mouth,” Nghixulifwa said.

He described being convicted as “a devastating blow”.

Nghixulifwa was found guilty on one charge of fraud and three counts of corruptly using his position as CEO of the RCC for gratification.

One of the charges under the Anti-Corruption Act and the count of fraud emanated from payments of close to N$4,9 million that the RCC made in 2005 for the purchase and transfer of the land on which the B1 City property development in Windhoek was done.

Those payments benefited the company, /Ae //Gams Engineering, which bought the land from the City of Windhoek. The company was at that stage run by businessman David Imbili, who was also charged until charges against him were withdrawn in March 2016. The judge further found that Nghixulifwa used his position as RCC CEO to benefit a company of Nghinamwaami by getting the RCC to pay close to N$30 000 to an auditing firm that had done work for the company.

Nghinamwaami was found guilty of fraud in connection with that payment.

Nghixulifwa was also convicted of having used his position as RCC CEO in March 2006 to authorise a payment of close to N$93 000 by the RCC to settle the arrears on a home loan account of an employee of the company. Nghixulifwa later paid that money back to the RCC.

Alexander argued that Nghixulifwa has in effect already been punished.

“You are about to sentence a broken man, a man who has lost everything,” he remarked to Liebenberg.

Alexander proposed that Nghixulifwa should be sentenced to pay a fine of N$80 000 or serve a two-year prison term, plus a prison term of not more than two years, entirely suspended for a period of five years.

Nghinamwaami’s defence lawyer, Trevor Brockerhoff, informed the judge that Nghinamwaami (59) is running a successful catering business with more than 110 employees.

It would not be in the interest of society to imprison someone like Nghinamwaami, who was found guilty on a fraud charge involving about N$30 000, Brockerhoff argued.

State advocate Hesekiel Iipinge, however, argued that only a sentence of direct imprisonment would be appropriate.

He argued that there is a public outcry about Namibia’s resources being used to benefit few people.

Nghixulifwa and Nghinamwaami remain free on bail, while they await their sentencing.

They stood trial with another accused, Anna Ndoroma, who was represented by defence lawyer Silas-Kishi Shakumu and was found not guilty on Monday.

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