By Frederick Philander MARIENTAL A number of alleged culprits involved in financially ripping off the Hardap Regional Council has either paid back the stolen money or are in the process of repaying the council. “Vast amounts of money had been stolen. Two former officials have already been sentenced for amounts of money amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, stolen from the Regional Council,” said the director of Finance, Charles Tjijienda, in a short press interlude in his office at Mariental on Friday. The Hardap Regional Council had been defrauded of more than N$1 million after which an independent auditors’ report was drawn up by a local auditing company, Grand Namibia. The devastating findings of the report caused a lot of unhappiness among the public as well as some regional councilors. “Shortly after we took over in 2004 we requested an investigation into the financial affairs of the Hardap Regional Council. The report was tabled before the council and was not concealed from the general public in any way. We are currently working hard at retrieving the government’s money as well as on the personal recommendations of the report,” said Tjijienda. He and his committee will report to the next management meeting of the Council, scheduled for later this month. “The discoveries the company made can just be the tip of the iceberg,” said a rather evasive Tjijienda. Among the irregularities uncovered by the audit investigation counts theft, financial maladministration, fraud and mismanagement. According to the financial director the present director of planning in the office of the Hardap Regional Council, Theresia Basson, had refunded the government she allegedly stolen during her tenure as a regional officer. “I already had a meeting with the Hardap governor to report on progress regarding the stolen money as well as how to improve the financial administration of the council. I am confident that a new system will prevent any such actions by would-be thieves and fraudsters,” said Tjijienda promising that he would keep the press updated about developments on the very devastating financial report on a monthly basis.