Cops foil N$4.3 million heist

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The recovered money being counted by Deputy Commissioner Ottile Kashuupulwa (left) and Inspector John Mwatongwe of the Namibian Police at Walvis Bay.

WALVIS BAY – Crack detective work by the Namibian Police at the coast foiled a N$4.3 million heist and saw the arrest of a security guard and Malawian witchdoctor linked to the crime.

The alleged mastermind of the massive theft that took place just a few days before Christmas works for the security company Namibia Protection Services (NPS).  Security guard Mutatubi Sylvester Kopani was arrested last week Friday at a flat in Kabeljou Street in Kuisebmond. The flat is owned by the witchdoctor, Calvin Banenai Chinkhombe.

Kopani allegedly stole N$1.8 million in cash and N$2.5 million in cheques last week Wednesday when he collected safety boxes from six businesses at Walvis Bay for NPS delivery to various banks.

The Malawian witchdoctor was arrested at the Wenela border post in the Zambezi region on Saturday while trying to cross into Zambia with N$809 000 in cash.

So far N$1.78 million has been recovered including the N$809 000 from the witchdoctor, while all the cheques were confiscated from Kopani last Friday.

The police also confiscated new clothes, two Samsung smartphones as well as a calculator used to calculate the loot.

Only about N$11 686 remains unaccounted for and this could be the money that was splurged on new clothes, the smartphones and other expenses.

During a media briefing on Monday afternoon, the Namibian Police in Erongo region, Detective Inspector Erastus Iikuyu said Kopani booked out a firearm on Wednesday from NPS.

“This is normal procedure at NPS, so nothing unusual was suspected. The suspect apparently after booking out the firearm drove out of the company’s premises without saying a word and also left his co-driver and assistant at the office. This was last Wednesday,” Iikuyu said.

Kopani was entrusted with collecting cash for safekeeping from Shoprite, AutoZone, Erongo Red, Metro Cash and Carry, Namibian Housing Enterprise (NHE) and Inland Revenue at the coast.

Kopani never returned to the company or went to the banks to hand over the cash and the cheques as required by NPS.

At around 10h00 the company started to look for Kopani who was still reachable on his mobile phone. However, the phone was later switched off and the company became suspicious and alerted the police who later found Kopani’s security vehicle parked at the police station in town.

A sting operation was carried out by Nampol, which led investigators to the witchdoctor’s flat in Kuisebmond, where Kopani was hiding.  I

In the meantime the witchdoctor fled from Walvis Bay and the police had no knowledge that Kopani had shared the money with the witchdoctor.

When New Era arrived at the scene late Friday afternoon, Commissioner Samuel //Hoebeb and Deputy Commissioner Ottilie Kashuupulwa were busy interrogating Kopani inside the flat where he told them about the witchdoctor’s involvement.

After several minutes they emerged with the handcuffed suspect who pointed out the hidden money to the police.  The money was nicely packed in two large cases and hidden in the garage of the flat together with the safety boxes.

The Chief Executive Officer of NPS, Cobus Visser, last Saturday thanked Nampol for a job well done. “It’s a sad story business-wise, but that’s why we have Nampol to assist us during such difficulties,” he said.
Kopani appeared on Monday morning in the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court on a charge of theft. He was denied bail and his case was postponed to January 2014.

The witchdoctor is expected to appear today in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate’s Court while arrangements are made for his transfer to Walvis Bay.

By Eveline de Klerk

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