State pushes for convictions in Avid case

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Roland Routh

WINDHOEK – The State yesterday demanded the conviction of all people standing before the High Court in the Avid corruption case involving N$30 million that went missing from the Social Security Commission (SSC) through dubious investments in between December 2004 and August 2005.

Standing before the court are former Member of Parliament and deputy minister Paulus Kapia, Inez /Gases, who served as board chairperson of Avid, former Avid director and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, lawyer Sharon Blaauw and her husband Ralph, who is the former Acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council.

Other directors are Retired Brigadier Mathias Shiweda and Nico Josea, a former Avid associate and investment broker. They are facing the main count of fraud for allegedly making misrepresentations to the SSC to invest N$30 million in the little known investment entity, Avid Investments, which was run by the late Lazarus Kandara.
During submissions on the verdict, State Advocate Ed Marondedze told the court that SSC would never have agreed to invest with Avid if they knew Kandara was involved.

“The accused told pure lies to the SSC to induce them to invest with them,” he appealed to High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg. He was adamant the accused did not have any insight into the goings-on at Avid nor were they involved, but the moment the SSC showed interest they all jumped on the bandwagon.

“Evidence shows that none of them could vouch for the truthfulness of what was represented to the SSC,” he further stated.

He pleaded with the court to ask itself whether the accused persons knowingly made false representations, or acted recklessly and carelessly as to whether the presentations were true or false and whether the misrepresentations involved some risk of either actual or potential prejudice. According to Marondedze, the court only needs to decide whether there was a risk of potential prejudice.

“It is not required that there has to be a probability of harm, nor that prejudice would be caused,” he stated.
What is significant, Marondedze said, was that none of the accused became directors or shareholders or promoters of Avid through their own initiative, but were “pulled together by one centre of gravity, namely the late Kandara”.
The judge has already acquitted some of the accused on some of the charges that were preferred against them.

Kapia, /Gases, Podewiltz and Blaauw have been acquitted on charges that they contravened the Companies Act. The court has also acquitted Shiweda and Josea on other charges. Judge Liebenberg also dismissed the charges of corruption against Podewiltz. All seven of them have already been acquitted of the charge that they provided false evidence also in contravention of the Companies Act.

The prosecution is adamant that evidence has shown that the late Kandara was the common denominator in Avid, although his name never featured in the company registration documents, the correspondence and the business proposal of Avid, which was given to the SSC managers, Marondedze said.

“This clearly shows that the accused persons were not the ones running the show at Avid. They were a mere front. They were not in control of Avid’s finances, they were not in control of the bank accounts of Avid, they were not making any decisions in so far as Avid was concerned,” Marondedze argued.

Kandara, the former CEO of Avid, killed himself with his own gun in front of the Windhoek Police Station on August 24, 2005. He was being taken into police custody after returning from his house under police escort where he had gone to pick up his toiletries and high blood pressure medication.

Kapia is represented by Sisa Namandje, /Gases by Petrie Theron, the Blaauw couple and Podewiltz by Gilroy Kasper, Shiweda by Jan Wessels all on private instructions while Josea is represented by Advocate Slysken Makando on instructions of legal aid.

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