Arts officials suspended on fraud, theft charges

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By Frederick Philander Exclusive WINDHOEK The accountant of the College of the Arts and the head of the National Extension Programme of the same college have been suspended from their duties with immediate effect by the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture. The suspensions, without pay, were initiated at the recommendation of the Public Serice Commission. Art/Life has reliably learned that serious cases of fraud and theft of thousands of dollars against accountant Peter van Wyk and the Head of the National Extension Programme Sharon Cagnetta, are presently being investigated by the Namibia Police’s Serious Crime Unit. Both officials were yesterday issued with letters of suspension from the ministry. Peter van Wyk, a member of the board of the Rehoboth School of Arts and accountant of the College of the Arts for the past four years, last year was charged with arson and appeared twice in court after the administration office of the institution was apparently deliberately set alight. Sharon Cagnetta, a former teacher, has been in charge of the National Extension Programme since 2001. She is suspected of having made false salary claims on behalf of tutors, cleaners and secretaries working under her at the Katutura Community Arts Centre over a number of years. Cagnetta is well known in religious music circles as a piano player in the capital. To date she has been the head of the arts programme that employs 72 part-time tutors at art centres countrywide. The police investigation is continuing and it is expected that the two will shortly appear in court on charges of fraud and theft. The director of Arts in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Retha-Louis Hofmeyr, under whose jurisdiction the two suspects resort, yesterday confirmed their suspension as well as the police investigations.