Don’t Hesitate to Report Corruption – You Are Protected

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is formulating charges against the 43 suspects fingered in the widening Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud case involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yesterday, the Deputy Director of the ACC, Erna van der Merwe, told New Era that no new suspects have been arrested in connection with the case. The last three suspects appeared in the Katutura Magistrates court on Wednesday. This does not mean, however, that the number of people involved in these corrupt practices has been finalized. According to the Deputy Director, investigations are ongoing while further arrests are highly likely. The majority of those involved in this case are males, with only one woman. Those implicated work for different organizations, namely: the City of Windhoek, TransNamib, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Montessori School. Van der Merwe says most of them might be found guilty of breaching Chapter 4 of the Anti-Corruption Act, which talks about misuse of office to obtain gratification. “False claims were submitted, and most of them are likely to be charged with fraud,” she indicated. Although 43 suspects might seem like a huge number, Van der Merwe stated that a thorough investigation would be done before the suspects are tried. While it was difficult for the deputy director to indicate when thorough scrutiny of the information at their disposal will come to an end, she was adamant that the investigations could be finalized before the end of next month. Last week, the office of Corporate Communications at SCC issued a statement informing the public about one of its employees, Maxwell Spannberg, who was fired for allegedly engaging in fraudulent activities which cost the institution hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although he could not give details, the Corporate Affairs Officer at the SSC, Rino Muranda, told New Era that Spannberg from the Registry Division was dismissed after he was found guilty of misconduct. He allegedly used passwords of other staff members to lodge, process and authorize fraudulent sick leave claims amounting to N$340ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. It was not the first time someone was dismissed for alleged fraud running into hundreds of thousands of dollars at the SSC. Spannberg’s fraudulent ways were uncovered after authorities within the SSC suspected some dubious activities in his department. This followed his suspension on August 30, 2006 after which a full-scale internal investigation was ordered. At a disciplinary hearing that was undertaken, Spannberg was found guilty of misconduct in terms of the provision of the Social Security Commission’s staff policy and procedure manual. The case was also reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission. Meanwhile, Van der Merwe has appealed to all Namibians to continue reporting suspected corrupt cases to her office for investigation. At the same time, she expressed satisfaction with the number of cases reported on a daily basis. “We receive about five calls, and sometimes even more”, she revealed. With the anti-corruption “Save out Nation Song” campaign that was launched by Women’s Action for Development (WAD) and its partners, most people seem to understand the need for a corrupt-free society. She assured: “People should not hesitate to report cases as they are protected. We protect our informants.”