29 November 2012

Namibia: Convicted Justice Director Faces Possible Dismissal

A SENIOR official in the Ministry of Justice faces disciplinary charges – and possible dismissal – after he was recently convicted on a charge of theft in the Regional Court at Otjiwarongo.

Innocent Kandandu, the director of court services in the Ministry of Justice, was convicted on a charge of theft amounting to N$86 000 in October. He was fined N$20 000 and instructed to repay the Otjozondjupa Regional Council, from where the money was stolen.

The permanent secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Justice, Peingeondjabi Shipoh, yesterday said although he had heard rumours about Kandandu’s conviction, he was “not quite aware” of it. “I have been asking for information which I did not get up to now. I just heard there is an issue.” Once more information reached his office, he would institute disciplinary measures, the PS undertook.

“You are the first one to give me this information. There will be no leniency on my side because the public service rules are there. I am definitely going to act on that.”

According to Shipoh, another senior official had a similar incident recently. He jumped ship before internal disciplinary measures could be instituted, the PS said.

When approached for comment, Kandandu yesterday said: “Who told you that? I have no comment.”

He claimed that he had communicated his conviction to the Ministry of Justice.

Asked whether he planned to appeal his conviction and sentence, he said: “That’s got nothing to do with you.”

Kandandu, chief regional officer Ndahafa Nghifindaka, director Liswani Kambinda and deputy director Tertius Shigweda, all employed by the Otjozondjupa Regional Council at the time, faced charges of corruption and fraud, alternatively theft, before Regional Magistrate Alexis Diergaardt.

Nghifindaka was convicted on a charge of corruption involving N$10 490 and was fined N$15 000.

Kambinda was convicted on a charge of corruption to the tune of N$44 155 and was fined N$20 000.

Shigweda, who also received a fine of N$20 000, was convicted on a charge of corruption involving N$41 653.

It is understood that the four had applied for their former positions at the Otjozondjupa Regional Council in 2003.

By November that year, the Public Service Commission had recommended that they be appointed.

However, the council could not appoint them immediately because it had to sort out internal issues.

They eventually started working at the council between May and July 2004.

In terms of the Public Service Act, the four people applied for backpay since more than six months had lapsed after they were recommended for employment.

The regional council authorised this and they were paid.

However, they then also demanded backpay for the first six months from the date of the recommendation – November 2003. Going against the council’s approval, they paid out the money to themselves.

This eventually landed them in the Otjiwarongo Regional Court and led to their conviction.

Public Prosecutor OJ Lino represented the State during the trial.

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