By Marshallino Beukes
Gross abuse of authority, misuse of financial resources to secure a personal cash flow, corruption, fraud and theft at the Rehoboth Town Council are but some of the strong words used in the final findings on a forensic audit report (2008/9), the Adonai report, which is in The Patriot’s possession.
National media have vaguely reported on this matter in the past, and an investigation by The Patriot has revealed that some of the Council officials mentioned in this report are still employed at the Rehoboth Town Council and also at local authorities elsewhere in the country.
First in the crossfire was the then Public Relations Officer and later acting Chief Executive officer at the town, Mr Jeffrey Kasupi. According to the report, Kasupi pocketed a total of N$34 474.00 in travel allowances for the period between October 2008 and August 2009. He apparently travelled from Rehoboth to among others Windhoek, Mariental and Swakopmund without supporting documents or with incomplete supporting paperwork. The money claimed by Kasupi for abovementioned period also included an amount of N$1500 for medical expenses, claimed without any supporting documents attached. “This pattern is an indication of misuse of financial resources to secure a personal cash flow right through the month, constituting fraudulent behaviour,” the report states.
Furthermore, on 21 August 2009, an overtime cheque (Exhibit JJK009) to the value of N$ 6,829.10 in favour of Mr. Kasupi was printed without any tax being deducted. This is despite a directive that overtime payments must be paid out with scheduled pay runs as it is a taxable remuneration to staff members. Mr Kasupi also stands accused of “violation of Council’s financial security regulations and gross negligence” after it was discovered that a cheque (Exhibit JJK010) issued to Solar Lighting & Appliance Co in the amount of N$ 113,850.00 on 25 October 2007, has been signed and cash at Standard Bank, Rehoboth, against Council’s bank account with only Mr. Kasupi having signed that cheque, which was supposed to be signed by an A and a B signature.
According to the report, Mr Kasupi also did not pay his municipal bills regularly, but these services were never suspended by Council. In terms of the personnel rules governing operations for local authorities, all personnel employed by a local authority must always ensure their accounts are fully settled. No arrangement for settling his account could be traced, but credit notes to the value of N$15.986.67 (15/01/2008- N$ 8,824.09, 16/07/2008 – N$ 4,352.17, 28/03/2009 – N$ 1,166.66, 17/04/2009 – N$ 1,511.30, N$ 132.45) (Exhibit JJK012) has been processed against his account.
“Property (land) sold on two auctions, dated 23 May 2008 and 06 December 2008 (Exhibit JJK014) by the Town Council, were not accounted for properly, as no loan debtor accounts were opened for the successful bidders, neither is there any accounting entries reflecting the required deposit or cash amounts to be paid by the customers.
Mr. Kasupi signed 30 instruction letters, to the value of N$ 923,000.00, and two plots as donations to the value of NS 230,000.00 without any approval letters from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (Exhibit JJK019), to the Deeds Office to register erven which was not paid in full to the Council, but only deposits of which no receipts or system transaction, or the necessary approval in the case of the donations is available, or the transactions are deleted from the system, or no receipt or file exists, fraudulently stating that the property were paid up in full.
Further investigation should be conducted into the selling of property by the Town Council, especially transactions between the Town Council and its staff members and their relatives.
More shocking revelations include a supply agreement, affective 17 June 2009, to the value of N$ 204,000.00 between Rehoboth Town Council and Live FM Radio Station for the delivery and installation of a conference recording system. This amount has been paid in full, without the delivery and installation of the requested equipment (Exhibit JJK015) the audit investigation revealed.
This agreement was signed in violation of the Local Authorities Act 31 A (a) by Mr. Kasupi and Mr. Klazen), without the Chairperson of the Management Committee. Mr. Kasupi initiated all these payments; 22/05/09 – N$ 25,000.00 (25717), 17/06/09 – N$ 115,000.00 (25992), 31/07/09 – N$ 16,000.00 (396), 07/08/08 – N$ 48,000.00 (480) (Exhibit JJK016), knowing all the way that the equipment has not been delivered, as per the audit report.
The 45-page report involves more accusations against Kasupi and in conclusion, regarding his alleged misconducts, states that “upon formalizing these charges against Mr. Kasupi, Council must suspend him immediately without pay and withheld his pension for the recovery of Council’s debts”. Kasupi, along with three other individuals, former Mayor George Dax, former Building Inspector and acting Technical Head, Sands Witbeen and Marco Rittmann, a local contractor, were arrested on corruption charges regarding the awarding of a sewerage tender by the ACC during 2017. However, these cases were later struck from the court roll.
Next in line, as per the Adonai Report, was the former Manager: Corporate Affairs Human Resource and Development, Mr. J. J. Strauss, who was accused of gross negligence, fraud, theft and corruption. Strauss apparently made six salary advance claims for medical expenses to the value of N$27 400 for the period between August 2008 and June 2009 without any supporting documents attached.
Furthermore, he apparently claimed a total of N$22,424.70 from September 2008 until May 2009 for travel allowance, also without any supporting documents attached. A total of 25 transport allowance claims were submitted by Mr. Strauss for the said period. It seems that Strauss also did not pay for his municipal (council) services, as the investigation revealed that he was in arrears amounting to N$ 25,902.08 (Exhibit JJS032) and in spite of this huge debt, his services were not suspended, and no arrangement for settling his account was in place.
This agreement was signed on 21 August 2006 by Mr. J. J. Strauss, in his capacity as Acting Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. D. R. Richter in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Management Committee. This specific incident is evident to corrupt practices, since donations are to be made to organizations, and strong motivations towards an individual, which was not the case in this event (Exhibit JJS041). The audit investigation exposed more fraudulent and corrupt practices by Strauss, the then Finance manager Mr C. Klazen and many more also involved.
“The fact that all management and staff members are in bad arrears on their accounts with Council and does not reflect on the service suspension lists (Exhibit CUK022), which is to be checked on a regular basis by the Finance Manager, constitute conspiracy to cause financial harm to the Council by not reprimanding these managers to pay their accounts in full, and thus resulting in fraud and corruption,” was one of the findings against Klazen.
The names of 27 former/current Town Council employees are mentioned in the report for not having their Council accounts paid in full, and having arrear balances in access of N$ 2,000.00, but still enjoying the services of the Council and it was requested that they should be charged with fraud, theft and gross negligence.
Many other well-known names of prominent Rehoboth residents are also mentioned in the report.
An email inquiry sent to the current CEO of the town, Mr Simeon Kanime, asked whether he was aware of any actions taken against employees who were involved in gross misconduct and corruption activities.
According the report, as some of these individuals are still employed at the Town Council and hundreds of thousands of Namibian dollars were involved. He was further asked what he was planning to do about it. The public relations officer at the town, Desire Theunissen replied on Friday that she would follow it up on Monday, but no response on this query as well as other questions posed to the CEO was received.