Red Cross Probes Thefts

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK EIGHT people are implicated in the theft of significant amounts of humanitarian goods earmarked for vulnerable groups by the Na-mibia Red Cross Society. Among the materials allegedly nicked by workers at the Namibia Red Cross Society are the organisation’s tarpaulins used during flood exercises. The four suspects are logistics officer Martha Aebes, administration assistant Bernadus Ganeb, driver/project assistant Helmut Eichab and Khomas regional manager Michael Shaningua. All four are currently on suspension pending investigations and they will face disciplinary action by early next year. The four suspects appeared in court on Monday this week, where each one was granted bail of N$100. By yesterday afternoon, three more suspects were arrested by the Namibian Police, two of whom are former staff members of the Namibia Red Cross. One is still at large, as well as two members of the public. This brings to eight the number of people implicated in the theft so far. The latest theft incidents at the Red Cross came out after an intense investigation began on November 22 following tip-offs from two members of the public. Initially, Secretary General Razia Essack-Kauaria was falsely implicated and this prompted the Red Cross Society to release a press statement refuting the false claims. “The Secretary General has not been implicated, put on probation or suspended as alleged by an informant to the media,” read the statement. She strongly refuted the allegations, saying they were “not true”. She added that after weeks of probing, she and the senior management team worked closely with the Namibian Police ever since the investigation commenced. “We are fully cooperating with the police and we shall leave no stone unturned until all suspects are arrested and criminal activities are brought to an end,” she explained. Essack-Kauaria said that it was regrettable that “people make money by selling items meant for vulnerable citizens”. The Namibia Red Cross Society acquired the tarpaulin sheets used as temporary shelter from the Danish Red Cross through the Relief International Federation. The sheets, which cost N$120 each, were allegedly stolen from the organisation and sold to affluent members of society to be used as shades. Kauaria added that the latest incident is regrettable. She said where such criminal incidents occur, investigations will be conducted in a transparent and accountable manner to bring the culprits to book. “The national society would like to assure its stakeholders and the general public at large of its commitment towards excellence, continued transparency and credibility. We believe that this is an isolated case and pride ourselves in our service delivery and commitment to transparency and accountability,” reads the press statement. The ongoing investigations are being carried out by a private investigating company, Specialised Investigating Consultant Services.