WINDHOEK – The State has called on the court to impose the full imprisonment terms allowed by the law for five people who were found guilty in the N$30 million Avid Investment and Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud case in May. “By imposing full term imprisonments, the court would abolish the notion that the courts are for the rich and not the poor,” said deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze.
The state argued that the pleas and arguments before court, that the accused persons receive wholly suspended sentences and given options to pay fines should not be considered by the court, given the magnitude of the case.
The court convicted former deputy minister of works Paulus Kapia, Avid Investment administrative secretary Inez //Gases, former acting secretary general of the National Youth Council (NYC) Ralph Blaauw, his lawyer wife Sharon Blaauw, and Nico Josea, Director and sole shareholder of Namangol Asset Management Company.
High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg found Kapia, //Gases and Ralph Blaauw guilty on the main charge of fraud. Sharon Blaauw was only convicted on the charge of conducting business in a reckless or fraudulent manner. The court convicted Josea of theft by conversion and reckless or fraudulent conduct of business. During mitigation yesterday, Marondedze reasoned it would neither be in the interest of justice nor the public for the convicts to be given suspended sentences and fines for the disappearance of public funds.
“This court should never be tempted to consider anything other than imprisonment. The accused were holding public offices and were trusted with public funds which is from poor people,” noted Marondedze.
The state proposed that Kapia,
//Gases and Ralph who are convicted on a fraud charge should be sentenced to serve full term imprisonment. Motivating the proposal, Marondedze said the three orchestrated the N$30 million loss and their actions made it possible for the money to land in the late Lazarus Kandara and Josea’s hands.
“The court should not treat Kapia, //Gases and Ralph lightly. These people were not acting in the interest of the Namibian people but for their own benefit,” explained Marondedze.
For Sharon, the state proposed a deterring sentence. While Josea should be sentenced to a full-term imprisonment for all counts to run concurrently. Taking the witness stand, Josea broke down in tears as he narrated to the court, the devastating effects the case has had on his family, especially his three sons.
“I am really remorseful. I ask this court to forgive me. I regret getting involved in this case. I regret my mistakes,” said Josea. Josea added that approximately N$11 million has been recovered through liquidation of which more than N$9 million came from Namangol’s liquidation.
Marondedze who was not sympathetic to Josea’s tears noted that all five accused persons are only showing the remorse because they were convicted. He reminded the court that theft of large sums of money attracts severe sentences. Further stating that the accused should not expect a soft landing in a case of this magnitude, as there are natural consequences of committing an offense.
Judge Liebenberg is expected to pass sentence on the group on the week of July 4.