Cigarette accused sentenced

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-Still hoping to the end for a sentence without having to go to prison, Venicia Ann Koning, a former issuing invoice administrative clerk at then Indo Atlantic, now CIC, shed tears after hearing she was sentenced to an effective five years on Friday by High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka.

She was convicted on 18 counts of fraud involving the issuing of false invoices for cigarettes that were not ordered by customers at Walvis Bay.

She was acquitted on 19 counts on a Section 174 application after the state closed its case.
Her co-accused David Martin Bezuidenhout, who was the driver of the cash van that delivered cigarettes to customers, was acquitted on 12 counts of fraud, alternatively theft.

According to the judge she defrauded her employer in an amount of approximately N$1,808,399.33 in false cigarette invoices.

“It is clear that the well-being of businesses is highly desired by the communities in order to deliver the required services to people,” the judge said, further noting that society also expects employees of businesses to execute their duties diligently in order to maintain their own job security as well as the anticipation of possible new recruitments to the business’s workforce.

In mitigation Koning informed the court she is married with three children and living in a house at Walvis Bay that was given to her by her father.

Her last born, 12 years old, attends school and currently resides with her sister in Walvis Bay together with her 19-year-old daughter.

According to Judge Siboleka, while she expressed regret for the wrongdoing, she did not take the court into her confidence to say what she did with the money or cigarettes related to the charges she has been convicted of.
She said she is unable to pay back the losses her former employer suffered, but will apologise to the company for the wrongdoing and asked for a lighter sentence, the judge remarked.

Her state-funded lawyer, Titus Ipumbu, told the court Koning is a first offender, has a family, and at the time of her arrest was taking care of her youngest child.

He asked the court to show mercy and sentence her to ten years of which six years should be suspended for five years on the usual conditions of good behaviour.

Ipumbu conceded that his client was in a position of trust which she breached and this makes the offence serious.
State advocate Simba Nduna told the court that Koning did not show any signs of remorse because she still maintained her innocence even during the mitigation hearing.

He said Koning showed her reluctance to take the court into her confidence and state what she did with the cigarettes she defrauded her employer of.

According to Judge Siboleka, the state counsel submitted and persuaded the court to consider a custodial sentence of which a small portion should be suspended on the usual conditions of good behaviour.

In the end, the judge said, taking all 18 counts together for the purpose of sentencing he sentenced her to 12 years’ imprisonment, of which seven years are suspended for five years on condition the accused is not convicted of fraud committed during the period of suspension, effectively leaving Koning with five years behind bars.

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