WINDHOEK – Murder convict and one-time fugitive from the law Lazarus Shaduka has lost N$208,000 that was allegedly withdrawn from his bank account by a prison guard and another inmate. It is alleged the prison inmate coerced the correctional officer with threats to withdraw money from the account of Shaduka on various occasions.
Namibian Correctional Service Commissioner-General Tuhafeni Hamunyela confirmed to New Era yesterday that investigations are underway to determine how inmate Saleks Ditshabue from the Windhoek Correctional Facility got hold of Shaduka’s automated teller machine (ATM) card which was kept in the safe at the facility’s clinic, but that went missing. Ditshabue and Shaduka shared a cell but were separated after the incident.
Shaduka was a successful businessman with interests in the financial and property sectors before his conviction of killing his wife Selma Mirjam ya Leopold Shaimemanya. He went on the run for almost four years after he lost his appeal against a 20-year jail term in December 2012. He handed himself over to the Namibian consulate in Angola during November 2016.
It is alleged that Ditshabue handed the ATM card to correctional officer Sakaria Joel Fikameni who withdrew money for him. It is also alleged that Fikameni at some point handed the ATM card to Ditshabue’s girlfriend who lives in Okahandja, to use the card.
Hamunyela yesterday said Fikameni has not yet been suspended but a disciplinary case was initiated against him. A case of fraud has since been opened at the Katutura Police Station.
“There was negligence somewhere,” said Hamunyela, adding that they need to recover whatever money was stolen.
Hamunyela said offenders’ ATM cards are kept in a locked safe for safeguarding and are never given to the inmates. When an inmate wishes to withdraw money, a correctional officer carries the card and inserts it into the ATM machine and after the transaction the card is given back for safekeeping.
In an internal memo to the Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Namoloh, Hamunyela says that Shaduka only became aware of the missing N$208,000 on April 24, when he asked his daughter to withdraw money from his Standard Bank account to buy him a jersey.
“It was during this visit to the bank that Shaduka’s daughter was alerted to the dubious transactions on her father’s bank account. A statement was withdrawn on the same day after Shaduka was informed and the shady transactions were indeed confirmed,” read the report.
It is alleged that Fikameni confessed to withdrawing about N$95,000 from Shaduka’s account of which he gave N$70,000 to Ditshabue, while he allegedly kept the rest of the money for himself.
The report stated that Fikameni’s confession was made on April 26 after his cellphone number was found to match a mobile phone recorded on the speed point slip at a local jewellery shop in town where a watch of N$749.00 was purchased.
Fikameni is said to have confessed that he had been trapped and coerced by threats from Ditshabue to carry out the illegal transaction.
“This has been the practice for a while until one day he (Fikameni) decided to withdraw money for his own benefit, after he realised that there was no way to escape the trap as offender (Ditshabue) threatened to hire people to kill Fikameni should he end the favour,” Hamunyela said in the report.
Ditshabue is said to have denied all the allegations, claiming there was no way he could lay his hands on Shaduka’s card, seeing that the ATM cards were kept in the safe managed by officers. Ditshabue who had previously assisted pushing Shaduka in his wheelchair to the bank, stated he was always asked to move away from Shaduka while at the ATM and there was no way he could see the personal identification number (PIN).
Shaduka made headlines in December 2012 when he went on the run after his unsuccessful appeal against his 20-year jail term for killing his wife Selma Mirjam ya Leopold Shaimemanya. He handed himself over to the Namibian consulate in Angola during November 2016.