The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has opted not to investigate a senior army official, who is accused of having sanctioned soldiers to use military equipment to plough the field of Namibia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Veicoh Nghiwete.
The situation, which has angered ACC officials, is described as an unethical act which could tarnish the credibility of the institution.
ACC Director General, Paulus Noa, this week confirmed that a case of alleged corruption has been reported against Colonel John Hailaula from the Otavi Military Base – situated less than 30 kilometres from Farm Hoopvol No 799/16, which belongs to Nghiwete.
Nghiwete yesterday denied any wrongdoing and pointed out that he paid to use the equipment and that he only used it because his own equipment was not functioning at the time.
Critics have, however, questioned why the army has not made it public that members of the public can lease army equipment, which is in most cases off-limits to the public for security reasons.
The Patriot has learnt that the corruption allegations were reported to the ACC on 27 January 2017. ACC officials from the Otjiwarongo office attended to the report on the same day.
“The ACC officials, accompanied by the military police, found two employees from the base busy ploughing the field of Mr Nghiwete. The officials found the military tractor with registration number NDF4938 and a trailer with a water tank with registration number NDF 4922. The officials informed the ACC officials that they were commanded by Colonel Hailaula to work on Nghiwete’s field,” said an ACC official, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation.
They also found five jerry cans full of fuel, four empty ones and a log book for the tractor.
The source added: “While at the farm, Colonel Hailaula arrived in an official vehicle with registration number NDF 3787.”
Responding to questions sent to him by The Patriot, Noa said the matter had been left in the hands of NDF to “investigate”.
“ACC received the allegations and decided to refer such allegations to the Office of Chief of Defence Force to investigate and provide feedback. Allegations of misuse of state resources by NDF members when received by the ACC are referred to the Office of Chief of Defence Force or the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence to investigate and give feedback,” said Noa.
Hailauala is also being accused of misusing state resources in the form of fuel, official vehicles and irrigation equipment for private use.
The source accused Noa of practising double standards by refusing to sanction the investigations.
“This is the same matter like the one of Major General Thomas Hamunyela last year. That matter was investigated by ACC without being sent back to defence like is being done now. Why is this case different? Maybe he must tell the nation what his relationship with Colonel Hailaula or High Commissioner Nghiwete is,” said the source.
There are also talks that Colonel Hailaula told ACC officials that he was instructed not to allow any investigations to take place unless the ACC provides an official letter requesting for an investigation.
Last year ACC investigated allegations levelled against Hamunyela during which it was alleged that he used Defence Force property: a water bowser trailer, tents and blankets and grinder and used it at the construction site of his private residence at Sivaradi Village, Kapako Constituency, 90 km South East of Rundu. In addition, he used a soldier to transport the property and building material to the said homestead.
When asked about the allegations of misuse of government resources at Otavi, Defence Minister Penda Ya Ndakolo said he was not “aware” of such goings-on within his ministry.
“I am not aware of such an investigation and maybe they (NDF) are on their way to bring the report to me,” said Ya Ndakolo.
Nghiwete, who was appointed as the Namibian High Commissioner to the South Africa in 2015, yesterday acknowledged using the Defence Force property to prepare his field.
“I have my own farming equipment but at the time my equipment was not in working order. I did so because I did not want to be caught off guard by the rain. I asked the army for assistance and I paid for using their equipment,” said Nghiwete.
Nghiwete said he also allowed the Base to use his equipment in the past for their own fields.
“I used to assist them with my harvester and tractor to use on their fields and I only charged them for fuel usage…that is the solidarity we have. But the fact of the matter is that I paid to use it,” Nghiwete told this publication via telephone from South Africa yesterday.
Nghiwete did not say how much he paid to use the military equipment and referred questions related to payments to payments office.
He further added: “They only came to work on a portion of my field.”
The ACC has, however, been labelled as a “toothless dog” by the public with many holding the view that it mainly targets junior-ranking officials, ignoring the high-ranking officials.
Although there have been many corruption cases reported, most of them involved mainly civil servants and politicians.
Major General Hamutenya
According to an ACC press release ACC HQO 15-0001593, summons was issued for Hamutenya to appear in the Rundu Regional Court on 1 November 2016.
Hamunyela did, however, not turn up at court and his legal representative offered an explanation to the court as to his absence.
A warrant of arrest was issued, which will be held over until the next court date. The case was then remanded to 1 to 4 August 2017.
On completion of the investigation, the case file was submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor General, who decided that the accused should be arraigned in the Rundu Regional Court for corruptly using office or position for gratification – by using a Namibian Defence Force motor vehicle and soldier to transport his building material to his homestead and further using an NDF water “bowser” trailer, tents and blankets and a grinder of the NDF during the construction of his residence.
He is also accused of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice (by allegedly falsifying a letter dated January 2015 indicating that he had obtained permission to use the mentioned property and submitting such letter to an authorised officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission) and of fraud.
This week, the ACC announced several arrests that it made involving civil servants.
ACC announced yesterday it has uncovered corruption, fraud, money laundering and contraventions of the Value Added Tax Act against employees of the ministry of agriculture, New Africa Dimensions and Wenrod Close Corporation after initiating and completing an investigation in 2012.
“The allegation in summary is that employees of the ministry of agriculture knowingly corruptly misrepresented to the ministry that certain goods, to wit, Lister engines and other goods had to be purchased,” the statement reads.
The accused persons in the matter are Benedictus Freyer (deputy director in the ministry of agriculture), Sadiek Lorenz Meintjies (former clerk in ministry of agriculture), Sylvia Hoeses (IT systems administrator in ministry of agriculture), Gerhard Shilongo (IT- Office of the Prime Minister), Eliaser Shikage (IT – Office of the Prime Minister), New Africa Dimensions (represented by Gerhard Shilongo), Rothny Stanley Hoeseb (Wenrod CC), Wentzer Jonathan Gomeb (Wenrod CC) and Jeffrey Johnson (Wenrod CC).
“The prices of these goods were inflated, bought without exemption, short delivered and not delivered at all, certified as received while they were never delivered and additional work and costs were charged and given to family members of employees of the ministry of agriculture for the transport of these engines while it was included in the purchase price.”
The anti-graft body also announced that five officials working for government offices in Oshikoto Region appeared in court after they were arrested for allegedly allocating land to themselves and their relatives at Oshivelo settlement.