The mayor of Oshakati, Katrina Shimbulu, has agreed to pay back the money she was accused of embezzling from council as Subsistence and Travel allowance (S&T) payments for events she had not attended.
Shimbulu said she paid back N$29 000 by Tuesday last week. Oshakati Town Council Chief Executive Officer Werner Iita confirmed that Shimbulu has indeed paid back the money.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that a letter from the Anti-Corruption Commission prompted Shimbulu to pay back the money.
Shimbulu, however, denied pocketing the money knowingly. She also says regular deductions of the money from her council allowance were deliberately delayed to settle scores with her. Part of the money includes N$20 000 she was paid as S&T allowance to travel to Botswana, a trip she ended up not undertaking.
In her defence, Shimbulu said she did not travel to Botswana because of the media, who delayed her with a barrage of phone calls during the controversy that surrounded the sale of the old open market erven.
The media, she said, had kept her on the phone for so long that it was too late for her to depart to Botswana. “I was on the phone with the media. When I hung up [the phone] another [media practitioner] would call until it was too late to leave,” Shimbulu explained.
The money she is said to have pocketed illegally includes money used to purchase a phone for N$15 000, while she is only entitled to a phone allowance of N$3 000.
Shimbulu also claimed there was an instance where the municipal staff forged her handwriting and applied for S&T on her behalf. This allegedly occurred when staff processed her S&T allowance to attend an event in Tsumeb. The event was abruptly shifted to Oshakati, at which time the money had already been deposited into her bank account, she said.
She denied knowing that the money had been deposited into her account, saying her account is too busy to keep track of all transactions.
Meanwhile, the mayor in turn accused municipal officials of misappropriation of funds.
She told New Era that council for the past few years has not produced any financial statements, hence cannot account for its finances.
However, council sources denounced the allegation. According to well-placed sources, Oshakati Municipality’s financial statements are in order, but are managed elsewhere, as council does not have the capacity to do so at present.