18 January 2013

Namibia: Probe Into Omusati Toilet Saga Completed

THE docket on the investigation into the Omusati toilet saga has been submitted to the prosecutor general's office, which now has to take a decision on whether to prosecute the culprit or not.

Danie Small in the office of the prosecutor general yesterday confirmed that the docket had been received.

The allegations are that some companies, which were awarded a N$20 million tender to build pit latrines, misused the funds.

A corruption alert was sounded already in 2008 when the Omusati Regional Council spent the entire N$20 million within three months on the construction of 60 pit latrines with 358 seats.

The PG's office has returned the docket to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which investigated the matter, on two previous occasions because the docket was incomplete and did not meet the Office of the Attorney General's instructions. The ACC was then requested to finalise the investigation into the matter once and for all since there were still statements outstanding that were crucial to the case.

Small would not divulge any information on the case, but indications are that the matter, already in its third year of investigation, can now come to a head when Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa returns to her office next week.

Some of the companies involved in the construction of the toilets were West Wing Investments, Nghulunghulu Construction, Pena Trading Enterprises, Evo Building Construction, and Nakwiila Kuukongo Construction and Renovation.

What raised eyebrows is that some of the toilets were built at exorbitant prices. One pit latrine cost N$750 000, while an average two-bedroom house with a flush toilet, kitchen and lounge at Outapi cost N$176 000 at the time. Outapi is the regional capital of the Omusati Region.

There were then allegations that the Omusati Regional Council director of planning, Abisai Shaningwa, had pocketed close to N$1,2 million through his company, Four Solution Investment, which built 27 of these toilets.

The money was allocated under the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development's sanitation programme after the National Planning Commission (NPC) indicated that the Omusati Region was one of four regions in which 75 percent of households do not have toilets.

The other regions identified were Oshana, Ohangwena, Kavango and Caprivi.

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa) in a report last week criticised the ACC for not making speedy headway on the Omusati toilet matter, and urged Namibia's law enforcers to arrest and prosecute the suspects.

"[Any] failure to punish the culprits is tantamount to the ACC's failure in the execution of its mandate and this will encourage more corrupt acts," ACT-Southern Africa stated in its Corruption Alert report, recommending that individuals and companies implicated and convicted of corruption should be named, shamed and blacklisted.

The organisation suggested that the Namibian government should set up an institution to compile and disseminate a blacklist of those found guilty of corruption.

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