17 September 2009

Namibia: NamPol's Hands Tied in Soldier Scam Case

THE Namibian Police cannot act against a group who have registered over 5 000 former South West Africa Territory Force members and taken N$182 from each of them unless someone lays a charge.

Police spokesperson Hophni Hamufungu said yesterday that it was clear that the former SWATF members were taken for a ride but Police needed a charge before acting against those who headed the scheme.

"We understand that the same scheme is also prevalent in South Africa. The SA National Defence Force has issued a statement warning people not to go to Upington," Hamufungu said.

Former SWATF soldier Neville Waggie has registered up to 5 000 former soldiers with an organisation called SA Cape Corps Trust and told them that they will get their money (around N$490 000) between September 30 and October 7 in Upington, South Africa.

The South African High Commission said on Tuesday that they knew nothing about the payments and that those who paid the N$182 registration fee did it at their own risk.

"There is no money that is going to be paid out by the RSA government with regard to past military service," the South African High Commission said.

Hamufungu said such payments would normally be done from government to government and not through private individuals.

"If there was anything the SA government had in stock, they would talk to their Namibian counterparts," he said.

Waggie said former SWATF soldiers must travel to Upington and report to the Eighth SA Infantry Battalion.

However, the SA government and its National Defence Force said the former SWATF soldiers risk arrest if they camp out at the army base.

At N$182 each, the 5 000 former SWATF members from Windhoek alone have parted with N$910 000 while many more have registered in places such as Tsumeb, Mariental and Rehoboth.

It is the second time a group has claimed to have access to millions from the SA government for former SWATF members.

Five years ago another group calling themselves the South African National Military Veterans Forum, which also allegedly operated from Upington, collected N$55 from each of around 5 000 former SWATF members but nothing came of it.

Desperate former SWATF members said they would part with N$182 rather than risk losing out on the lucrative N$490 000 if such payouts did materialise.

The Department of Pensions Administration in South Africa's Ministry of Finance already indicated in 2004 that it had destroyed documents about ex-SWATF members.

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