Corruption before the Court

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The first suspect charged in terms of the anti-corruption law yesterday appeared in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court on two charges of forgery and theft of public funds to the tune of N$10 220. The school secretary of the People’s Primary School in Katutura, Prisca Auchas, was granted bail of N$2000. The case was postponed to September 8 this year while police investigations continue. The 32-year-old suspect who appeared briefly before Windhoek Magistrate Lea Shaanika yesterday morning was not asked to plead. Auchas, who handled her own defence, has applied to the Ministry of Justice’s Directorate of Legal Aid for state-sponsored legal representation after the presiding magistrate explained her right to legal representation. She was granted bail of N$2000, coupled with stringent bail conditions to report every Monday morning between 08h00 and 10h00 at the Katutura Police Station. While it is the first case launched by the anti-corruption body, Detective Inspector Phelem Masule told New Era that more arrests will follow soon as investigations are currently underway on several other corruption cases. Such cases involve mostly abuse of government resources and GRN vehicles and well as certain officials misusing their public positions for personal gain. The arrest of the first suspect on forgery and theft comes just a few days after the Director of the ACC, Paulus Noa, told President Hifikepunye Pohamba about the official start of the body’s investigations into the over 200 cases that have been filed with the office. Although the public perception may be that this latest arrest is a relatively low profile corruption case as opposed to the more sensational ones like the commissions of inquiry into certain companies, the ACC Director is of the opinion that thorough investigation needs to be done before arrests can be made. “You just don’t act on anything unless you’ve got a solid case,” said Noa, adding that evidence is crucial when it comes to such investigations. “First, we take every report as a mere allegation and then we undertake investigations. “Sometimes, if there’s not enough evidence, we put the aside case and re-open the docket as more evidence comes in,” he explained. Noa re-iterated that the corruption-busting agency was not designed for any specific group of people or institutions but any person or institution that make themselves guilty of corruption. During last week’s courtesy call on President Pohamba at State House, Noa requested that the documentation previous commissions of inquiry be passed on to his commission for follow-up and/or action. This includes the presidential commissions of inquiry into the Social Security Commission, the Development Brigade Corporation and the Roads Authority. The ACC director said that the Head of State responded positively by saying he would make the re- ports available to the ACC office. With the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission at the beginning of this year, it is the first time that action has been taken by the body since President Pohamba officially commissioned the body early this year. Since he came into power, the Head of State has been leading the fight against corruption and made it his personal mission to root out this cancer from all spheres of society.