Windhoek-Local fashion designer Hambeleleni Maria Matsi, well known in social circles as ‘Hem’, has testified before court that she did not conspire to have her car burned so she can claim insurance money.
Matsi testified before Magistrate Elina Nandago in the Windhoek Regional Court yesterday, where she faces charges of fraud, making a false statement and obstructing the course of justice. All three charges are in connection to her car that was set alight in July 2011 by two men.
According to the prosecution documents before court, Matsi, is alleged to have hired her friend’s boyfriend and his friend, one Hendrick, to steal her car and set it alight, as she was having financial trouble at the time.
The prosecution alleges she had her car burned out by the two men, so she could claim the insurance money. Matsi, a fashion designer for Hemline and medical technologist, has been out on bail of N$5,000 since her arrest and first court appearance in 2011.
“If I was having financial problems, how would I have been in a position to open a second store in the north? I was even employed at NIP [Namibia Institute of Pathology at the time],” Matsi testified under cross-examination from State Prosecutor Menencia Nhinda.
In a gruesome cross-examination by the prosecution and the magistrate, Matsi who was giving conflicting statements and dodging questions put to her in court, maintained that her car was stolen and that she never had intentions of submitting false claims to the insurance company.
Matsi maintained that it was her friend’s boyfriend who hatched the plan to burn the car to extort money from her. She also made another claim that in 2014 two men, including a police officer, demanded N$40,000 from her to make the case records disappear.
Nhinda told Matsi bluntly that she was lying, as her car was never stolen since one cannot make a duplicate of a Mercedes Benz car key and she was the only one in possession of her now missing car key.
According to witnesses who took the stand, Matsi came up with the whole plan of stealing and burning her car.
One of the two men who burned out the car testified that Matsi approached him and his friend with a plan to buy petrol, steal her Mercedes Benz A-class and drive it to Daan Viljoen where they would set it alight. Upon completion of the mission, the two men were allegedly instructed to place the car key in an envelope. The envelope was to be handed to long-distance taxi drivers driving to the northern regions from Monte Cristo taxi rank in Windhoek.
Matsi was alleged to have been in the north at the time and the keys were to be delivered to her.
The two men alleged they were promised N$60,000 for their trouble. Matsi never made true on her promise though, they claim. One of the men who took to the stand on Tuesday told the court that Matsi was having financial troubles at the time, when the plan to burn the car and claim the insurance money was hatched.
However, the insurance paid out only N$75,536.84, of which N$63,536.84 was paid to the bank to pay off the car loan, leaving Matsi with only N$12,000 from the insurance payout.
Matsi is expected to make her next appearance in court on November 7 after Magistrate Nandago postponed the matter for submissions.