Windhoek-The hopes of a former prosecutor who is facing charges of fraud and racketeering to be released on bail were shattered in the High Court yesterday when the court refused to grant him bail for the second time.
Former prosecutor Ivan Victory Tjizu had approached the High Court to appeal the decision handed down by the Katutura District Court to not grant him bail.
Tjizu was arrested in December 2016 in connection to what became known as the witness fees scam, which had reportedly cost taxpayers more than N$280,000, an amount which is expected to increase as evidence on the case unfolds. Influence over potential suspects and witnesses, missing dockets, possible interference with investigations and being a public officebearer were some of the reasons that were relied upon by Judge Christie Liebenberg in upholding the decision handed down by the lower court. “It seems to me that the court’s finding of a real possibility of further influence and interference by the appellant (Tjizu) with witnesses is supported by facts and justified in the circumstances of the case,” Judge Liebenberg explained.
It is alleged Tjizu defrauded the State of N$280,000 in witness fees during the time he was employed as a prosecutor.
The accused allegedly worked fraudulently together with a web of people to claim witness fees for people who had allegedly travelled from outside Windhoek and were arranged to pose as state witnesses. As a result witness fees were falsely claimed and paid out.
The court discovered that Tjizu had made contact with state witnesses during ongoing investigations. Furthermore, there was a direct link between the second suspect, who was impersonating a police officer.
The second suspect has allegedly disappeared and is yet to be traced after Tjizu made contact with him during the early stages of investigations. According to the court Tjizu refused to give out information about his accomplice.
Tjizu went as far as threatening his fake witnesses, who wanted to withdraw from the scam, informing them that their names had been placed on record already and they should instead furnish replacements.
According to the investigative officer 32 dockets related to the scam and were in Tjizu’s control, but only 12 have been found. “It would be in my view constitute sufficient grounds for reaching the conclusion that the appellant (Tjizu) has something to do with the disappearance,” noted the judge.
Tjizu wanted to be released on bail for medical reasons, for further studies and to look after his family. “Though suspended from duty the appellant still receives his monthly income… his dependants will not suffer any financial hardships a result of his incarceration,” the court found.
Tjizu will now stand trial on charges of fraud, racketeering, corruptly using his office and position for self-gratification and corruptly using false documents for conspiring to commit offences under the Anti-Corruption Act.