Namugongo Faces Three Charges

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Following Sunday’s arrest of Sackey Namugongo, a deputy director in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on allegations of the issuance of fake gambling licences, reports suggests other big names could follow him into the cells. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) agents seized Namugongo shortly after he deplaned at Hosea Kutako International Airport following an official trip to South Africa. Sources say over the next four days, other suspects with big profiles could possibly join Namugongo in the police cells where he is the unwitting state guest for his alleged role in the fraudulent issuing of numerous gambling licences. The anti-graft body is anticipating that with the help of the public, more light would be shed on this seemingly well-marshalled racket. The Director of the ACC, Paulus Noa, informed New Era that since the much-publicised arrest of Namugongo by the ACC on Sunday, increasing numbers of people have voluntarily come forth with seemingly concrete evidence and proof on how the scam was conducted. “If they are prominent, we will get them on the hook or if they are not prominent, we will still hook them in,” said an ebullient Noa in response to a question as to whether other big fish are involved in the scam. Looking rather calm though slightly limping, Namugongo appeared briefly for the first time before the Windhoek magistrate’s court yesterday. He appeared before Magistrate Kauna Shilemba on several charges of corruption, namely, fraud, forgery and uttering where the latter crime is the actual act of carrying out the illegal deed of issuing fake licenses to individuals. He was arrested for allegedly selling fake gambling licences to individuals amounting to hundreds of thousands of Namibians dollars. This ranged from N$25 000 to N$30 000 and N$40 000 – to his clients who included cuca shop owners and others. New Era learnt that Namugongo was allegedly operating the illegal business from his residence in Windhoek. On Saturday, ACC agents confiscated his computer hard drive, licence documents and office material from his home as evidence in the investigation. Namugongo is accused of using his senior position for self-enrichment in violation of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003. He entered the courtroom at around 10:00 yesterday morning in the company of his lawyer Rocco Kauta while being escorted by Detective Inspector Phelem Masule and Warrant-Officer Hendrina Shikudule who are both attached to the ACC. The accused remains in police custody and the case has been postponed to September 22, 2006 for a formal bail application. Bail was not initially granted at yesterday’s hearing as this could jeopardize the ongoing investigations. “It could be that he is not the only one involved. There are some other people whom we want to approach. It’s just a matter of about getting more concrete information,” said Noa. One reason given for objecting to the suspect’s bail application was that he could interfere with the investigation and jeopardise the arrest of potential accomplices. The ACC has been investigating this specific case after members of the public lodged their concern with the offices of the anti-graft agency last week. Noa said the alleged crime has been going on for some time now and signs are that this is a big scam. Noa is appealing to the general public to come forward with more evidence on this specific case.