1 February 2013

Namibia: Usakos Municipal Theft Suspect Redeployed

KLAAS Uanga, former assistant accountant at the Usakos municipality and one of five suspects in the theft of municipal cheques, has been appointed as the personal assistant (PA) to the town's CEO, Gruzi Goseb.

The incident in which four blank cheques were allegedly stolen took place in 2010. The police arrested five suspects who were all granted bail. Their next appearance is on February 5.

Two of the suspects, namely Uanga and municipal meter reader Engelhard Alfons Sabab, were suspended from their jobs for the duration of the investigation, and they were also not allowed to come near the municipal premises, Goseb confirmed.

The other three suspects were a former policeman, Ronald Harold Gouws, Windhoek resident Vuzumzi Ga-Kas Dladla and Joseph Ipumbu, a mineworker at Usakos.

Upon inquiry, Goseb confirmed the appointment of Uanga as his PA.

"The restriction set by the court has been lifted. I have personally asked the local police if they would have an objection if Uanga was appointed at the municipality and they said they would have no objection as long as he did not fill any position in a financial department," Goseb told The Namibian.

But Usakos residents are concerned about Uanga's new position, feeling that it may interfere with the ongoing police investigation.

"It is the CEO's office where some, if not most, of the council's information is stored and goes through daily. Why does [Uanga] have total access to the CEO's office," a resident asked.

It is also alleged that the other municipal employee who was suspended, Sabab, is accusing the municipality of unfair treatment.

Calls to Sabab's phone went unanswered.

Goseb said that of the two workers, only Uanga applied for a position.

"If Sabab had applied, the restriction may have been lifted for him too. I explained to the court and police that we are a small municipality with few staff. How can we still pay people on suspension when they are not doing work, hence the request to allow them to work," said Goseb.

Many other allegations against Goseb and Uanga's conduct were raised by the community, as well as allegations of general corruption and nepotism in the municipality.

"All I can say is that I am doing everything above [board]. I'm not acting on my own accord but according to regulations, and I will not give in to political or community pressure regarding my office. This is what makes me unpopular and where the most conflict is. The point is, I am working for the best interest of the town and while there may be opposition from certain quarters, be it political motivated or personal, I am also enjoying support from other quarters," Goseb said.

According to him, there has always been opposition in Usakos - and that it was "as old as Usakos", especially with elections drawing closer.

The Namibian is reliably informed that a petition regarding Uanga's reinstatement will be handed over at his next court appearance.

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