Outapi-“Although I sympathise with the accused, I cannot be blinded by sympathy and therefore as an adult person and a mother of three children you should have known that your conduct would ultimately attract negative consequences to you and your dependents.”
These were words of Magistrate Unchen Konjore last week when he sentenced a 38-year-old woman to 29 years to prison on 17 counts of fraud at Outapi Magistrate’s Court, of which 12 years will run concurrently, meaning she will effectively serve 17 years imprisonment.
Hilka Megameno Nepembe was employed at the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry in the Department of Rural Water Supply at Outapi in the Omusati Region, where it was found that she wrongfully, unlawfully, directly or indirectly solicited or accepted money from 17 complainants to install a water meter in their houses.
Between November 2009 to May 2011, she made fraudulent representation to 17 people that the water taps and facilities to their homes would be connected, after the people were induced to pay various amount ranging from N$1,300 to N$3,600.
She pleaded not guilty on all 17 counts and argued that there was consent. On many of the charges, she was adamant that some of the complainants approached her to go and apply on their behalf, which she did.
The magistrate said when the fraudster continuously defrauded 14 others by taking their money, knowing she was not authorised to receive such funds on behalf of the ministry for the connection of water services at the private residences of the complainants.
“Although the accused made formal admission on the remaining proven counts I wish to note that her version throughout the trial was not convincing and was very confusing, in fact.
“I say so because from the start the accused pleaded not guilty to all charges and mainly disputed having received money from the alleged complainants, whilst also stating that some of the complainants already had water services connected or their services were correctly connected according to their applications,” the magistrate noted.
However, Konjore said it was Nepembe‘s fault that she now faced such a detrimental sentence and that the court cannot negate the negative effects of the sentence.
“The accused’s sentence will remain a mirror of her conduct and a blatant display of the planning and persistence she imposed when committing these offences, as her conduct was no accident,” Konjore said.
Ndahafa Nghifewa prosecuted on behalf of the State.