12 November 2012

Namibia: Academic Fraud Case Referred to PG

Windhoek — The Prosecutor General (PG)'s decision in the matter in which eleven people - 10 Angolans and a Namibian - face fraud charges over the falsification of academic qualifications is not yet ready.

Since the matter could not proceed last Thursday in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, it was remanded to November 20.

The accused are Mesias Francisco Gola, Andre Garcia Teixeira, Johannes Kandali Kalimbo, Fausto Raimundo Da Silva, Pedro Diogo, Oliviera Morais, Pedro Miguel Maiembe, Antonio Costa Francisco, Mario Augusto Da Costa, Tomas A.M. Quissanga and Danilcia Fernandes Garcia.

The accused were arrested on Saturday, October 27 after they allegedly intended to have their own 'graduation party' at a local hotel with fake qualifications. The accused were supposed to plead on Monday, but Prosecutor Samantha Diergaardt informed magistrate Ingrid Unengu that the Prosecutor General would have to make a decision on how to proceed with the case.

The accused appeared in court for contravening section 34 of the Anti-Corruption Act, and for fraud, forgery, as well as contravening section 46 of the Act and section 77 of the Education Act of 2001.

After the arrests, the Director of the ACC, Paulus Noah, urged tertiary institutions to exercise a higher degree of scrutiny before "they admit the mushrooming foreign students in their institutions".

"If they are capable of forging qualifications in Namibia, they are equally capable of doing so in their own respective countries," Noah said. Noah also urged employers to be on the lookout for academic cheats. Employers must go to the trouble of verifying the original academic certificates with the institutions where the qualifications are purportedly obtained.

The qualifications forged were from the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), the International University of Management (IUM) and Institute of Commercial Management (ICM), though other tertiary institutions such as the University of Namibia (Unam) were not ruled out, Noah said.

The ACC director said the students bought forged certificates, which were sold for N$5 000 and N$7 500 each depending on the academic level. Investigations revealed somebody was offered N$12 000 as well as a laptop to act as a representative of the Polytechnic of Namibia to hand over the certificates, Noah added.

Orben Sibeya of the law firm Sibeya and Partners represented Gola, one of the accused.

Tabitha Mbome of Neves Legal Practitioners represented Teixeira, Morais and Maiembe during Monday's proceedings. Mese Tjituri represented Diogo, while Da Silva Francisco and Da Costa are represented by Ndapewa-Omagano Shipopyeni.

The other accused did not have legal representation.

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