Police blame slow GIPF probe on witnesses

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WINDHOEK – The Namibian Police have blamed the slow pace of investigations into the missing N$660 million of the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) on witnesses and suspects who refuse to fully cooperate.

GIPF was swindled of about N$660 million in loans granted from its Development Capital Portfolio (DCP) to several local companies close to two decades ago, some of whom had little or no business mileage while others suspiciously went bankrupt after receiving loans.

Over the years NamPol and the office of the prosecutor general have been playing ping-pong with the GIPF docket, causing further delays in the hunt for the missing millions.

NamPol’s Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga pinned the delays on witnesses who are unwilling to cooperate with the police and the huge pile of documents which the police have to sieve through for information that could lead to the recovery of the missing funds.

Ndeitunga last week admitted that the investigations have dragged on for too long, considering the fact that it continues to cost taxpayers millions.

“There were a lot of impediments during the entire process and it is also too cumbersome. Witnesses and some people under investigation refuse to cooperate, while others have made use of their lawyers to prevent us from questioning them,” said Ndeitunga.

Meanwhile, Evilasutus Kaaronda, who was NUNWs secretary general at the time the GIPF saga surfaced at the turn of the century, said the money can still be recovered provided “the workers are determined to get answers and get their money”.

“But if the workers become cowards and fall into blind political loyalty then there shall be no recovery,” he said.
Although the missing money belongs to Namibian workers, the NUNW has seemingly taken up a spectator’s role by constantly saying the matter is in the hands of the police.

Workers have over the years accused NUNW of failing to show real interest in pushing NamPol to act swiftly to recover the funds.

Acting NUNW president Connie Pandeni refused to tell New Era what the federation is doing to keep the police on its toes on the matter.

“I will not say anything on the GIPF money, our mandate was to report back at the upcoming congress. We are not obligated to report to you on the matter but rather to report to the congress,” said Pandeni briefly.

NUNW is set to hold its elective congress end of this month and workers are expected to come out with guns blazing as they seek answers from the union bosses regarding the missing millions.

Kaaronda, the founder of the new Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo), vowed to follow up the GIPF saga once his union hits full throttle.

“I do not care what NUNW is saying, doing or what goes on there, but as far as the funds are concerned, we all know that Cabinet and NUNW at the time were being used as a tool to protect thieves and to blind the workers,” he said.
Kaaronda remains adamant that his axing from NUNW was to silence him from questioning how the money went missing.

“Everyone, including politicians, will one day answer what happened regardless whether it is during Hage’s era or his successor, but justice will prevail one day,” he said.

According to Kaaronda: “GIPF appears to be unbothered because they are not making any effort to recover the money, yet they continue to pump money into companies like Safland to build malls – I wonder who will shop in these malls if people are poor!”

When asked about the progress regarding the much-talked about missing money last year, GIPF’s General Manager for Marketing and Corporate Communications, Elvis Nashilongo, said he was not inclined to say much on the matter because police investigations were still underway.

“We do not want to make a mockery of the investigations by commenting while investigations are underway, but I can say that the GIPF will fully cooperate with the police so that the matter can be brought to a reasonable end,” Nashilongo said at the time.

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