Shiweda testifies about role in Avid

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Simon Endjala

Windhoek-A retired brigadier in the Namibian Defence Force and former managing director of the Windhoeker Machinenfabrik implicated in the Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud scandal said he has no regrets about helping set up Avid Investment Management firm, as there were no plans to defraud anyone.

Retired Brigadier Mathias Shiweda said he joined the Avid Investment Asset Management company on request of co-accused Ralph Blaauw. In his defence evidence Shiweda told High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday that co-accused Ralph Blaauw, the former acting secretary-general of National Youth Council, had approached him in 2004 with the idea of setting up the now-defunct Avid asset management firm.

“Ralph Blaauw had approached me at my office during April 2004 with the idea of setting up the Avid asset management company while I was working as the managing director at the Windhoeker Machinenfabrik (WMF),” the former military man told the court.
“I cannot, however, remember where the first meeting between me and Ralph Blaauw took place, but, we had exchanged ideas in connection with the setting up of Avid Asset Management on several occasions.”

“There were also a number of follow-up discussions on the issue,” Shiweda said, explaining that he was never a director in the little-known but politically connected firm, because he was already a director at the WMF at the time.

According to Shiweda, he was only a shareholder in the company.
He had telephonically confirmed to Ralph Blaauw that he was interested in the business and was, thereafter, provided with a document to sign as a shareholder.

He further told the court that there was another meeting on January 24, 2005 in which all shareholders in the company were present, but “I cannot remember what was discussed in that meeting, because I left earlier that day before the meeting could start”.

Under cross-examination by Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondezde, Shiweda said in all his dealings with the other co-accused persons they had never had any intention to defraud, steal or embezzle the N$30 million the SSC had invested in Avid.

According to court documents, Shiweda held about 8 percent shares in Avid.
“I have never touched this money and neither my co-accused persons wanted to steal or embezzle the SSC money,” the retired brigadier said, noting that he now regrets having accepted the offer to join Avid as shareholder.

Others implicated in the fraud case are Avid administrative secretary Inez //Gases; former deputy minister of works and Swapo politician Paulus Kapia; former acting secretary-general of National Youth Council Ralph Blaauw; lawyer Otniel Podewiltz; Blaauw’s wife, Sharon Blaauw; and Windhoek businessman and chief executive officer of Namangol Asset Management Company, Nico Josia.

The seven accused persons were all arrested in 2008 over the missing N$30 million that had been invested by the SSC in Avid in 2005. The accused are all out on N$10,000 bail each.

Marondedze, assisted by Cliff Lutibezi, represented the State.
Defence lawyers Petrie Theron, Sisa Namandje, Kasper Gilroy, Slysken Makando and Attorney Jan Wessels are representing the accused persons.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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