Avid trial resumes

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New Era Newspaper Namibia
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Windhoek

The Avid corruption and theft trial in the Windhoek High Court resumed yesterday with Inez Gases, the second accused, continuing the denials that have been the route the defence has taken so far.

Gases is now represented by Petrie Theron, after she unceremoniously dumped Advocate Werner Boesak just days after he cross-examined Paulus Kapia. During her testimony-in-chief, Gases informed the court that the late Lazarus Kandara, whom she called “my elder brother”, approached her to take up a position as a director in Avid Investments in April 2004. According to her, when she realised after a couple of months that she was supposed to be the chairperson of the company, she asked Kandara about it, but he told her not to worry as he would take over in the near future.

“He was very close family and I trusted him completely,” she said. Gases further denied the State’s contention that she was involved in the theft of the Social Security Commission (SSC) millions and told the court that during November 2004, before the SSC investment, she received a “letter” that informed her that the board of Avid had made Kandara a co-signatory on the bank accounts of Avid. Until then, she said, she was the only one who had signing powers.

After N$30 million was paid into the bank account of Avid in January 2005, Gases said she was asked by Kandara to sign a transfer form, but she did not enquire as to the reason for it since she trusted him. She further denied any knowledge that there were queries about the SSC investment and only came to know about it during the High Court enquiry into the missing money in July 2005.

Gases further denied any wrongdoing in the way she conducted herself during her tenure as chairperson of Avid Investments. During cross-examination by local lawyer Sisa Namandje, on behalf of former parliamentarian Paulus Kapia, she denied that any board meetings took place or that she was ever part of a board meeting where the investment of the SSC money was discussed.

She further disputed a claim that she made in her plea explanation that the board members of Avid decided unanimously to entrust the late Kandara to invest the money on their behalf.

According to her, it was “common cause that Avid Investments was the brainchild of the late Kandara and that he was responsible for the day-to-day running of the company”.

Gases, Kapia, local lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, Sharon Blaauw and her husband Ralph Blaauw, retired Brigadier Mathias Shiweda and Nico Josea are all charged with a count of fraud, alternatively theft, and a host of charges of reckless or fraudulent conduct of business, which is a contravention of the Companies Act, Act 61 of 1973 that was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 2010.

Josea alone is charged with a count of theft.

Judge Liebenberg recently denied an application by the seven accused in the matter for all charges to be dropped against them for lack of evidence and ordered that they have answers to give.

Advocate Slysken Makando, on instructions of legal aid, represents Josea, Jan Wessels represents Brigadier Shiweda, Sisa Namandje represents Kapia and Gilroy Kasper is representing Podewiltz and the Blaauw couple. State Advocate Ed Marondedze represents the State assisted by Cliff Lutibezi.

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