State nets over N$0,7m in sting

State nets over N$0,7m in sting

A BUSINESS trip to Namibia turned into a disaster with a price tag of more than N$700 000, plus a criminal conviction, for two residents of South Africa last week.

British citizen George Michael Thomson (64) and South African national Paul van der Merwe (57) were arrested by the Police in a diamond string operation in Windhoek on Sunday (May 21). They went on to spend three days in the squalid confines of the Windhoek Police Station cells while their case was being fast-tracked through the courts, ending in an appearance before Regional Court Magistrate Gert Retief on Wednesday.During their appearance, the court was told that Thomson and Van der Merwe were in Namibia as part of a plan to set up a business in the country.They were, however, pulled into quite a different field of commerce: illegal diamond dealing.What they did not know – or at least not yet at that stage – was that they were being lured into a Police trap that would end up costing them a sack of money and would in turn earn the Namibian State a handy cash windfall.In Windhoek on May 21, the two men clinched a deal in which they bought nine high-quality diamonds, with a combined mass of 35,95 carats, for an agreed price of N$305 000, Thomson and Van der Merwe informed Magistrate Retief in statement in which they explained their guilty pleas on a charge of illegally buying unpolished diamonds.According to that charge, the diamonds the two men were buying were actually worth N$701 618.Thomson, who informed the court that he has British citizenship and owns a house in one of Cape Town’s poshest suburbs, and Van der Merwe, who lives in Johannesburg, admitted that they handed over US$40 000 (about N$260 000) and N$45 000 to “a certain Paulo” as payment for the gemstones.This money was included in a list of exhibits seized by the Police that Magistrate Retief declared forfeited to the State at the conclusion of the duo’s trial.Magistrate Retief also sentenced each of the two men to a fine of N$200 000 or four years’ imprisonment, plus a further four-year prison sentence suspended for five years on condition that they are not again convicted of illegal diamond dealing committed during the period of suspension.In all, that brings the total monetary loss that the two men have suffered directly as a result of the illegal diamond deal to N$705 000.Not only the money that the men paid to the purported seller of the gems, but also a diamond scale and two calculators that were seized by the Police were declared forfeited to the State.Public Prosecutor Belinda Wantenaar acted for the prosecution during the trial.Defence lawyer Henrico von Wielligh of the firm PD Theron & Associates represented Thomson and Van der Merwe.They went on to spend three days in the squalid confines of the Windhoek Police Station cells while their case was being fast-tracked through the courts, ending in an appearance before Regional Court Magistrate Gert Retief on Wednesday.During their appearance, the court was told that Thomson and Van der Merwe were in Namibia as part of a plan to set up a business in the country. They were, however, pulled into quite a different field of commerce: illegal diamond dealing.What they did not know – or at least not yet at that stage – was that they were being lured into a Police trap that would end up costing them a sack of money and would in turn earn the Namibian State a handy cash windfall.In Windhoek on May 21, the two men clinched a deal in which they bought nine high-quality diamonds, with a combined mass of 35,95 carats, for an agreed price of N$305 000, Thomson and Van der Merwe informed Magistrate Retief in statement in which they explained their guilty pleas on a charge of illegally buying unpolished diamonds.According to that charge, the diamonds the two men were buying were actually worth N$701 618.Thomson, who informed the court that he has British citizenship and owns a house in one of Cape Town’s poshest suburbs, and Van der Merwe, who lives in Johannesburg, admitted that they handed over US$40 000 (about N$260 000) and N$45 000 to “a certain Paulo” as payment for the gemstones.This money was included in a list of exhibits seized by the Police that Magistrate Retief declared forfeited to the State at the conclusion of the duo’s trial.Magistrate Retief also sentenced each of the two men to a fine of N$200 000 or four years’ imprisonment, plus a further four-year prison sentence suspended for five years on condition that they are not again convicted of illegal diamond dealing committed during the period of suspension.In all, that brings the total monetary loss that the two men have suffered directly as a result of the illegal diamond deal to N$705 000.Not only the money that the men paid to the purported seller of the gems, but also a diamond scale and two calculators that were seized by the Police were declared forfeited to the State.Public Prosecutor Belinda Wantenaar acted for the prosecution during the trial.Defence lawyer Henrico von Wielligh of the firm PD Theron & Associates represented Thomson and Van der Merwe.

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