N$7,3-m Fraud Accused Pleads Guilty

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Almost like a sacrificial lamb, Emmanuel Mununga yesterday pleaded guilty in the Windhoek High Court and allowed his 23 co-accused to walk free. Mununga, the accused number one in the trial of 24 suspects accused of defrauding the Ministry of Defence and Sanlam Namibia of more than N$7,3 million, pleaded guilty to 246 counts of fraud after the State withdrew 40 of the counts against him. In his plea read by his lawyer Unanisa Hengari, Mununga said, “I resultantly plead guilty on the aforesaid counts of fraud in that on or about between 23 January 1996 and 27 November 2000, I wrongfully, intentionally, unlawfully, falsely and with intent to defraud gave out or pretended to Sanlam and the Ministry of Defence that some persons died whilst being in the service of the NDF.” Mununga told the court that he was employed as a personnel officer between 23 January and 27 November 2000 at the Ministry of defence and based in Windhoek. He said as part of his job description, he had to handle, process and submit claims to Sanlam Namibia in terms of the Sanlam Group Scheme for the Ministry of Defence, administered by Sanlam Namibia. Mununga said that it was also part of his duties and responsibilities to collect cheques from Sanlam, issue cheques to beneficiaries and to deposit the cheques into the accounts of the beneficiaries of deceased members if advised by the Ministry of Defence. He admitted that as a result of the false pretences he induced Sanlam and NDF to accept the claims as valid whereas they were not. “I further state that when I did give out and pretend, I very well knew that the death benefit claims and beneficiaries were false and that they were not entitled to the cheques or proceeds of such falsified claims.” Mununga virtually set his co-accused free when he said that at all material times he acted alone and his method of operation consisted of making copies of death certificates, which he obtained at the archives of the Ministry of Defence. He said that he collected the cheques himself or sent the messenger at the office in payment of the various fraudulent claims. “I admit that the persons into whose accounts I paid the money did not have knowledge about the fraud which was perpetuated by myself.” He revealed that when the other accused questioned the deposits, he explained that the deposits were merely a part of his own business transactions. “I would simply stop using their accounts if they continued asking questions about the deposits.” The 23 suspects who walked free are Kapunda Mununga, Joseph Lilisa, Matheus Hamutenya, Vilho Hamutenya, Roswitha Haingura, Elifasi Dingara, Basilius Dyakugha, Pius Kahanya, Michael Haikora, Leonard Kandjimi, Frieda Nauyala, Banda Shilimela, Ester Shabyunale, Theophilus Ikwambi, Reino Kauna, Elizabeth Nangombe, Theresia Kavindja, Job Katuuo, Eunice Kavanze, Nyanda Pintero, Mauno Hausiku, Natalie Kasiku Hamutenya and Albertina Kasiku Siketeka. Concluding his plea, Mununga said that he at all times knew that his unlawful and intentional making of various misrepresentation would cause actual or potential prejudice to Sanlam and the NDF. “I further knew that my conduct was unlawful and punishable but I humbly request this court to show mercy and leniency and I vow never to repeat such offence or any other offence in the future.” The plea of Mununga virtually cut short the trial, which was expected to last for at least three weeks with 129 witnesses. Acting Judge Christie Liebenberg after hearing the plea declared Mununga guilty as charged on the counts and postponed the trial to 27 September for mediation at the request of Hengari. Liebenberg also overruled a request by the public prosecutor to keep Mununga in custody since he has been convicted. Local lawyers Gerson Hinda, Tousy Namiseb, Marlene Dammert, Sarel Maritz, Slytsken Makando, Shafimana Ueitele, Bradley Basson and Louis du Pisani had an off day in court as Mununga pleaded guilty.