Eveline de Klerk
Swakopmund-based mining company Gecko Namibia is being investigated by police in the Erongo Region for alleged illegal mining at the Cape Cross salt pans, about 45 kilometres from Henties Bay.
According to papers seen by New Era the area in question belongs to companies Cape Cross Salts (CCS) and Cape Cross Salt Investments (CCSI).
However, none of the two companies are extracting the salt for several years now due to disputes, with the latter being accused of dubiously acquiring a 95 percent share of CCS, which gave birth to CCSI.
CCS was founded by Petrus Iimbodi, who also serves as the director of the company, while CCSI is co-owned by Lameck Mwanyangapo and Mikka Asino.
CCSI allegedly gave permission to Gecko Namibia to extract natural rock salt for an undisclosed amount of money, which saw Gecko pocketing more than N$20 million.
Officials in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism told New Era last week that no environment assessment impact study was conducted on the area in question, thus no mining right was issued.
Officials say both CCS and CCSI do not have the right to mine in the area, let alone allow anyone to mine on their behalf. Crime investigations coordinator for the Erongo Region, Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu, yesterday confirmed that the police are currently investigating a case of theft against Gecko Namibia, who now need to provide evidence that they are legally placed by CCSI at the salt pans.
According to Iikuyu the investigations are currently at an early stage.
“We just want to get to the bottom of this matter and to resolve the matter once and for all,” Iikuyu said yesterday.
When contacted for comment yesterday Iimbodi told New Era that they were a group of small miners who took over the mining activities in 2006 when the previous owners were liquidated.
“We wanted to revive the mine and needed assistance to pay for the liquidated equipment and continue mining so that we could have a stable income,” he said.
“Asino and Mwanyangapo agreed to provide equipment to us. Mwanyangapo arrived in October 2006 with a paper and requested that we sign for the equipment that was en-route to the mine. In fact we were misled and signed over 95 percent of our company and have been fighting with them ever since,” Iimbodi told New Era yesterday.
Mwanyangapo told New Era that he did not wish to comment on the salt saga and that Gecko Namibia should be asked on which basis they were allowed to extract the salt at Cape Cross. When asked whether they (CCSI) have mining rights, Mwanyengapo referred New Era to the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
However the ministry was yet to respond to questions sent to them last week by New Era.