The phone call that ended Rebebe’s 54 days on the run

Nico Rebebe

Former Bank Windhoek employee Nico Rebebe’s 54 days on the run ended yesterday when the police received a tip-off that he was back in town and at his girlfriend’s house at Opuwo.

However, the police say it was not the girlfriend that tipped them off about the whereabouts of the alleged mastermind behind the theft in which the bank said it had suffered a potential loss of about N$2 million. A police source confirmed that someone close to Rebebe had tipped off the police.

Kunene crime investigations coordinator deputy commissioner Paavo Iyambo confirmed that Rebebe (30) had been arrested.

“However, the police never got any call from the girlfriend, the information we got is from someone else and he did not hand himself over to the police, it is the police that arrested him,” Iyambo said.

Kunene regional commander commissioner James Nderura said Rebebe was ambushed by the police.

According to Nderura, prior to the arrest, police received a tip-off that Rebebe was back in town and wanted to surrender to the police.

Nderura said Rebebe had reportedly been hiding in Angola before returning to Opuwo.

In January, the police initially said Rebebe had stolen N$200 million at Bank Windhoek’s Opuwo branch.

However, Bank Windhoek managing director Baronice Hans said at the time of the theft that the potential loss was less than N$2 million.

“Thanks to vigilant staff action and robust systems and controls within Bank Windhoek, no customer funds have been affected in any way by this incident,” Hans said.

A few days afterwards, six suspects from Rundu were arrested, as well as two others at Opuwo.

The ages of the suspects range between 22 and 30.

They were charged with fraud and theft.

They were all denied bail after appearing in court and their case was postponed to 11 April for further police investigations.

At the time, Kavango East acting regional commander deputy commissioner Eino Nambahu told The Namibian that N$1,5 million was discovered in the bank accounts of three suspects, while N$200 000 was found in the accounts of three others – all arrested at Rundu.

“It is further said that Rebebe approached the six, promising them jobs at a farm, and one of the requirements was for them to open accounts with Bank Windhoek, in which he would pay their monthly salaries.

“After the accounts were opened, the [ATM] cards were taken by Rebebe,” Nambahu said.

Police spokesperson deputy commissioner Kauna Shikwambi last week confirmed the arrests.

“Two accused persons were arrested at Okahao, six at Rundu, one each at Oshakati, Opuwo, Onamatanga, and in Windhoek,” she said.

Rebebe was admitted to a hospital due to diabetes yesterday, following his arrest.

The police believe Rebebe has not been taking his medication while he was on the run since January.

Nderura confirmed the hospitalisation.

“Yes, he was taken to the hospital, because he was not feeling okay. He returned back to the police station; however, he was taken back again and was admitted. It is diabetes. It seems to me that he was not taking his medication where he was hiding,” Nderura said.

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