Eighteen teachers and two education officials implicated in the N$10 million salary scam appeared in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate's Court yesterday following their arrests earlier this week.
The accused were arrested on Monday and Tuesday after an audit unearthed the dishonest scheme that had allegedly been committed from January 2012 to June 2016.
It emerged in court yesterday that some of the accused allegedly received as much as N$570 000 over the four years, while others allegedly received about N$222 000.
The accountants allegedly made dubious payments in the form of basic salaries, service bonuses, housing allowances, acting allowances, supervisory benefits, bush allowances, housing subsidies and remote allowances arrears.
The teachers were each granted bail of N$20 000, while the two officials - former education ministry accountants Boschoff Masule and Frances Lisao - remain in custody. Masule and Lisao face five counts each of using their office for personal gratification; fraud, alternatively theft; forgery; and a contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 2004 (Poca).
The teachers - Lubasi Mwanannawa, Milinga Mbanga, Aldrin Kanululu, Nalisa Sinvula, Siyambango Chaze, Chunga Martin, Siyoka Raymond, Sichombe Moowa, Libala Charles, Lukubwe Christian, Mukanwa Francis, Muzumi Henry, Mamebo Clarinah, Mulike Judith, Mwale Sisamu, Malumo Reginah, Bukute Myaze, Siloiso Moses - face two charges each, namely fraud and a contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 2004.
Magistrate Nomusa Khumalo postponed the case to 4 December 2017 to allow for further investigations, and for the accused to secure legal representation.
The state initially sought bail of N$30 000 for each accused because the money involved were public funds.
Prosecutor George Matali said he agreed to bail because the teachers needed to go back to work.
He, however, asked that four conditions be set - that the accused should not interfere with state witnesses; refrain from interfering with police investigations; not go near the education ministry's offices, particularly the finance department; and that they report to the police if they have to leave the Katima Mulilo district.
The defence lawyer of two of the accused persons, Inonge Mainga, objected to bail being fixed at N$30 000, arguing that the accused were Katima Mulilo residents, and were not flight risks.
Mainga submitted that all the accused were teachers, and could not afford N$30 000 bail.
After listening to the arguments, magistrate Khumalo denied bail to the accountants, and set the reduced bail amount for the 18 teachers.