11 September 2012

Namibia: Human Trafficking Case Postponed

Oshakati — The Oshakati Magistrate's Court last Friday postponed the case in which Ben Karibi Nwahin aka 'Igwe' faces allegations of human trafficking and bribing a weekly tabloid.

The alleged bribery stems from a case in which the suspect tried to bribe a tabloid journalist two years ago.

On Friday, Jan Greyling of Greyling and Associates who is the defence attorney of Nwahin, filed a request proposing a delay to the hearing, for the reason that he has to travel to South Africa to attend to some family related issues. Advocate Jack ≠Eixab represented the State.

Oshakati Regional Court Magistrate, Bongani Ndlovu, said the court consented to the lawyer's request and the hearing was adjourned to Monday February 25, 2013 at 9 a.m. for the continuation of the trial when he will continue the cross-examination of journalist Patience Nyangove and another witness.

Nyangove, who is now with Confidénte weekly, was a reporter for the Informanté weekly at the time.

As previously reported, the alleged bribery incident involving the Oshikango-based businessman of Nigerian origin occurred in June 2010 and was exposed in the Informanté weekly of June 3-9 2010 under the title "Oshikango Igwe in Human Trafficking bust" written by Nyangove who testified on Friday under cross-examination by Greyling.

During the cross examination Greyling maintained that the story was fabricated - an action that was allegedly aimed at making a great scoop as an exposé story about human trafficking. Greyling also said that the reporter made herself guilty when she accepted foreign currency from the suspect, which she denied, claiming she was part of a police sting operation. Police foiled the delivery and confiscated the money and the bottle of wine used for the bribe.

Nwahin was arrested in 2010 after the police organized a sting operation involving the journalist. He allegedly tried to bribe the journalist with six pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), a bottle of Graca wine, Four Cousins wine, US$200, R600 (South African Rand) and N$700 for her not to publish the story.

The sting operation was staged in May 2010 after some illegal immigrants were found in a house at the border town of Oshikango. The suspect spent nearly three months in detention before he was finally granted N$20 000 bail. His bail of N$20 000 has been extended.

In addition Nwahin, who appeared in court, is also facing corruption and bigamy charges after he allegedly married two Namibian women to whom he lied separately about his nationality, according to the charge sheet furnished by State Prosecutor Advocate Jack ≠Eixab .

One woman was told that he is a Nigerian while he lied to another that he was a Sierra Leonean by nationality.

On the charge of human trafficking the victims, who were kept in a deplorable, overcrowded and dirty room under the care of Nwahin, were mostly from Nigeria and were allegedly smuggled into neighbouring Angola for U$1 300 for Nigerians and U$1 500 for non-Nigerians.

Most of the immigrants are said to have entered Namibia using the Wenela Border Post through an immigration authority contact before travelling to Oshikango.

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