Corruption Commission Strikes

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The first arrest by the recently created Anti-Corruption Commission occurred yesterday morning when an employee of the People Primary School in Katutura was taken in on charges of theft and forgery. The school secretary, 32-year-old Prisca Auchas, faces two charges of forgery and theft of public funds to the tune of N$10 220. This was confirmed to New Era by Detective Inspector Phelem Masule from the Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday. Auchas is currently being held at the Wanaheda Police Station. She is due to appear before the Katutura Magistrates Court today for a bail application. “The evidence against her is very strong and the investigations are still ongoing”, said Detective Inspector Masule. Although the case falls under the jurisdiction of the Katutura Police, the accused is currently being held at Wanaheda Police Station since there are no female holding cells at the Katutura Police Station. The Detective Inspector hinted that more arrests would follow soon in the many cases reported to the ACC. “This one was one of our early cases at the Anti-Corruption Commission and more arrests are very much imminent, especially in cases of abuse of government resources and people misusing their public positions”, he said. The latest arrest comes just three days after the director of the ACC, Paulus Noa, had already briefed President Hifikepunye Pohamba about the official start of its investigations last week Thursday. Noa informed New Era briefly yesterday that investigations are in full swing and ” … people should not be surprised if more arrests are coming”. Last week, Noa paid a courtesy visit to the Head of State to inform him about the latest developments at the ACC since its inauguration by President Pohamba at the beginning of the year. Pohamba has been leading the fight against corruption since coming to power on 21 March last year. The director approached the President to request that the work of previous commissions of inquiry be passed on to his commission for follow-up and/or action. These could include the Presidential Commissions of Inquiry into the Social Security Commission, the Development Brigade Corporation and the Roads Authority. Meanwhile, the staff complement of the corruption-busting agency has been approved by the Office of the Prime Minister. This means that recruitment through advertisements to fill the 30 planned positions at the ACC will follow suit. Noa said although the staff complement is small, it is expected to grow based on the complexity of corruption cases lodged at the Commission’s office. The office is at present in the Frans Indongo Building but is expected to move to permanent premises near the Polytechnic of Namibia. While there will be a unit for specialising in Investigations, there will also be units dealing with Prosecution, Intelligence, an Educational Campaign and Corruption Prevention as well as Support Staff. More than 200 alleged corruption cases have been reported to the ACC so far. They will be investigated while some will be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman and other institutions for investigation. “Not all cases that come in or reported to us are corruption related, so these we will send through to appropriate institutions for further investigation”, added the ACC Director. So far, files of reported cases range from bribery in awarding tenders, bribery of police officers by the public in the issuing traffic tickets, abuse of public vehicles by government officials, obtaining illegal licences and the appointment or promotion of people who are relatives to those working in government ministries. The ACC not only investigates corruption in public or government institutions, but also private institutions.