The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Further Arrests Over N$2,2 Million Robbery

THE Namibian Police have arrested an additional five suspects in connection with an alleged robbery in which N$2,2 million was stolen from a Lebanese businessman in Windhoek in mid-May.

A police officer is amongst the five suspects who were arrested on Wednesday afternoon, one of the detectives investigating the case, Detective Warrant Officer Nickodemus Nehale, testified in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court yesterday.

The five suspects were due to be put on an identification parade yesterday, and are expected to appear in court today, Nehale said.

He was testifying in the bail application of businessman Josia 'Zorro' Muhongo (54), who was the first person to be arrested in connection with the alleged robbery in Klein Windhoek on May 16.

Muhongo and a co-accused, Michael Shidiwe (53), are charged with counts of robbery and impersonating a Police officer.

During his bail application, which started on June 20, Muhongo has told Magistrate Jermaine Muchali that he is an innocent man and that he is, like the complainant in the matter, also a victim of the people who committed the alleged robbery.

A Lebanese-born resident of Canada, Vicken Kaprelian, is alleged to have been robbed of N$2,2 million by a group of men who, while pretending to be police officers, stormed into a house where Kaprelian had a meeting with Shidiwe on May 16.

Muhongo was also present at the house. He has told the magistrate that he remained behind in a lounge while Kaprelian and Shidiwe moved deeper into the house, before the group of three supposed Police officers barged in and claimed they were investigating illegal activities.

By the time the supposed policemen left the house they had the N$2,2 million, which had been in Kaprelian's possession, with them, it is alleged.

Muhongo has testified that he realised only later that he and Kaprelian, who is a business partner of his, had been the victims of a scam.

Muhongo said Kaprelian met Shidiwe to discuss a possible sale of an oil exploration licence by Shidiwe. Kaprelian had the money with him in order to pay a cash "commitment fee" as part of the negotiations, he indicated.

"Not a single cent has been recovered," Nehale said about the stolen money yesterday. He said he was objecting to the granting of bail to Muhongo because the investigation of the matter was still continuing, more suspects might have to be arrested, and all of the stolen money remains missing up to now.

Nehale told the magistrate that according to the complainant in the matter he found Muhongo sitting with his feet on a couch, laughing, when he returned to the lounge where Muhongo was after the supposed police officers had arrived at the house.

According to Muhongo that is not the truth, defence lawyer Orben Sibeya told Nehale.

The detective also testified that according to the complainant he found an elderly man in the house, and that this person presented a package of supposed diamonds to him before the supposed police officers made their uninvited arrival at the scene.

Magistrate Muchali is due to give his decision in the bail application on Monday.

A separate bail application by Shidiwe is scheduled to start on Wednesday next week.

Public Prosecutor Taodago Gaweseb is representing the State.

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