20 December 2012

Namibia: Ohorongo Rehires Convicted Employee

OHORONGO Cement has come under fire for appointing employees with criminal records - allegedly in contravention of its staff policies.

An employee of the company claims that Elina Nashixwa, the human resources officer at Ohorongo, had criminal charges pending against her when she was hired by the cement manufacturer. When she was convicted she resigned and was re-employed.

The employee, who spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity, said the company violated its own policies by rehiring Nashixwa.

Nashixwa on inquiry last week told The Namibian that her conviction on charges of corruption was something she had done in her private life and she did not want to discuss it.

Hans-Wilhelm Schütte, the managing director of Ohorongo Cement, last week could not say whether appointing and eventually reappointing Nashixwa was in contravention of the company's policies.

"As a Namibian employer and good corporate citizen, Ohorongo Cement (Pty) Ltd does not practice any form of discrimination whatsoever. Our employees, suppliers and service providers, including their families private lives, are and remain their own personal and private concern and the company does not make a habit of commenting nor becoming involved therein," he said.

According to him, Nashixwa "is a service provider for the company on a consultant basis. Any further inquiries relating to her personal affairs should be dealt with directly with Ms Nashixwa."

In December last year, Nashixwa was convicted on two charges of corruption in the Tsumeb Magistrate's Court.

She was sentenced to a fine of N$10 000 or 18 months' imprisonment. She paid the fine. Half of the sentence was conditionally suspended for five years.

Nashixwa, a former Tsumeb Town Council personnel officer, had pleaded guilty to two of 10 corruption charges she faced.

She admitted that she had changed her previous employer's payroll system to increase her housing subsidy of N$1 347,70 to N$3 348,70 in January 2007, and to N$2 348,70 in April the same year.

The other eight counts were dropped after the court could not find that Nashixwa had acted unlawfully and fraudulently.

The eight counts of corruption related to subsistence and travel expenses claims she had submitted to both the Tsumeb Town Council and the Retirement Fund of Local Authorities when attending local authority retirement fund meetings as council representative.

She was let off the hook after the council's human resources manager, Alfeus Benjamin, and former chief executive officer Aino Malakia Hauwangwa testified that they had authorised her to submit S&T claims to both the council and the Retirement Fund of Local Authorities.

The two claimed they were under the impression that she could claim expenses from both institutions as there was no clear council policy.

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