ACC Nets Big Fish

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) agents yesterday morning arrested former television presenter and current Deputy Director of Wildlife Management, Sackey Namugongo, upon his arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport. ACC agents seized the deputy director at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on charges of fraud running into hundreds of thousands of dollars, after his arrival from Johannesburg, where he was on govermental business to attend a series of information meetings on how South Africa is regulating its booming gambling industry. Namugongo was arrested shortly after 10am at the airport by two police offi-cials attached to the graft-busting agency. Speaking to New Era shortly after the arrest, ACC Director Paulus Noa said the suspect was arrested for allegedly selling fake gambling licences to individuals amounting to hundreds of thousands of Namibian dollars. Namugongo allegedly sold gambling licences to people for amounts ranging from N$25 000 to N$30 000 and N$40 000 and his clients included cuca shop owners, explained Noa who was adamant that such corrupt practices must be stopped. ” In our investigation, we found that fake gambling licenses were issued by him,” he said. Noa urgently appealed to members of the general public to come forward with more evidence in this specific case. “We are appealing to those people who may have been issued fake gambling licences through dubious means by this suspect to come forward and give more proof as to how these licences were issued to them,” he added. Noa elaborated that witnesses who come forward will be protected, and urged them to help assist the agency in finalising the investigation against the high-ranking suspect. The anti-graft body has been investigating the case since a complaint was reported to its offices last week. Detective Inspector Phelem Masule and Warrant-Officer Hendrina Shikudule arrested Namugongo at the airport. When asked to respond to the arrest of the senior official in his ministry, Environment and Tourism Permanent Secretary Dr Malan Lindeque said the matter was now in the hands of the relevant authorities. ” We are very sorry this has happened and it is now being handled by the Anti-Corruption Commission,” said Dr Lindeque. Although not proven yet, Dr Lindeque said “if there are licenses somehow irregularly obtained” then the ministry would support the ACC in getting the public to come out with more evidence. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism declared a moratorium on the issuing of gambling licences in the country in January 1997. But the high demand led to a rising number of illegal gambling licenses. Before the moratorium, about 260 licenses were issued to gambling houses and three for casinos. Namugongo, who was Deputy Director of Wildlife Management in the Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management till July this year, was seconded from this position to work with the issuance of gambling licences. Since July this year, public complaints have been rife that despite the moratorium that was in place, the issuing of gambling licenses was still ongoing. For the past three months it is alleged that more than a million dollars was paid to obtain illegal gambling licenses. It is believed that Namugongo might not be the only person involved in the alleged scam. Investigations continue.