Corrupt Border Officials Nailed

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Two immigration officers from the Trans-Kalahari border post at Buitepos were arrested yesterday after they were found to have solicited bribes from a number of foreigners before allowing them to illegally enter the country. One of the accused, 34-year-old Nathan Tujoromajo Mbaukwa was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) agents on Monday following an investigation into the crime he allegedly committed in July this year when he reportedly allowed eight Sri Lankans, who had no holiday visas, to enter Namibia after he allegedly received bribes from them. The Director of the Anti-Corruption Commission Paulus Noa yesterday said: “The accused had initially demanded N$3 000 from these foreigners although a lesser amount was agreed upon of N$800 and paid to him.” “The N$800 was a lump sum for the group. The accused retained their passports (after their paying half the amount) and he asked them to phone him to pay the outstanding balance later,” explained Noa, adding that acts of bribery and corruption have become common at several other border posts in the country. The incident occurred between July 16 to 18 this year at the Trans-Kalahari border post (Buitepos) at the Namibia/Botswana border. The second accused, who was arrested yesterday, is Rewardt Walter Aribeb, 32, who allegedly squeezed bribes from several Zimbabweans whom he allowed to stay in the country longer than stipulated. Aribeb is due to appear in the Gobabis magistrate’s court today. In close collaboration with their Botswana counterparts from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), the Anti-Corruption Commission managed to successfully throw the dragnet around the culprits at the border post. Botswana officials from the DCEC gave assistance by obtaining statements from the eight Sri Lankans. The Sri Lankans currently live in Botswana where they have permanent residence. Mbaukwa, who was locked up and detained at the Trans-Kalahari police station, appeared before the Gobabis magistrate’s court yesterday. Since investigations into this case are now complete, the ACC investigating officers did not object to the release of the accused on bail of N$3 000. The amount was initially N$6 000, but the court reduced the bail money by half. Noa said: “There is no safe haven for corrupt officials”, and the graft body will act against those who commit corrupt practices. “These practices are very dangerous and we have to clean up the borders,” he added. Reports have it that trucks carrying commodities also come through the Namibia/South Africa border post and enter the country without making the required payments. It sometimes happens that “money is even deposited into the accounts of immigration officers” for people and goods to pass through illegally, Noa said. Noa concluded that immigration officials who engage in these acts undermine the security of the country.