21 December 2017

Namibia: Tjivikua Accused of N$60 Million Fraud

AN INVESTIGATION into the suspended former acting TransNamib chief executive, Hippy Tjivikua, found that he allegedly committed fraud involving N$60 million.

This revelation forms part of the findings following investigations into Tjivikua's suspension and that of the former TransNamib property manager, Struggle Ihuhua.

According to people with inside knowledge of the matter, the report recommended that the company should fire Tjivikua, criminally charge and report him to the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia.

The Namibian understands that Tjivikua was found to have committed fraud concerning N$60 million he contracted RMH Logistics to rehabilitate and install pumps and diesel tanks at TransNamib's Walvis Bay depot. RMH, that has so far received N$10 million for the job, is now suing TransNamib for N$500 000 to recover costs.

The company is suing because TransNamib did not pay for some of the pumps and tanks installed at Walvis Bay.

TransNamib believes that the tender was inflated to accommodate bribes.

It is alleged that the reason for approving the contract was because of the diesel spillage that could have resulted in the closure of the depot.

Those who saw the report said that Ihuhua, whose contract was not renewed when it ended last month, will now have to face possible criminal charges because of his involvement.

Michael Gotore, TarnsNamib acting chief executive officer, confirmed that Tjivikua was still on suspension and that Ihuhua's contract ended in October.

Gotore further said that the board was finalising the company's position and the way forward on the basis of the outcome of the investigation.

TransNamib board chairperson, Paul Smit said the issue was sensitive and could not give any information.

The Namibian could not get the ACC's head investigator, Nelius Becker, to confirm whether they have the report.

Ihuhua was unable to respond to questions emailed and forwarded to him via other platforms.

Tjivikua declined to comment as he was not aware of the report findings, nor was there any communication to him from the company since his suspension.

"Also, no disciplinary hearing was conducted as provided for in the company policy. Finally, I reserve my rights," he said.

Tjivikua further said he had not given any contract amounting to N$60 million as it was outside his delegation of authority as the board would have been involved.

"Therefore, my conscience is clear," he said, adding that the board had only approved N$5,5 million towards the clean-up of the oil spillage and rehabilitation as per quotation submitted.

"All in all, this is a systematic witch-hunt, labelling and character assassination. I was merely doing my job to salvage the emergency situation and the environmental disaster of the oil leakage," said Tjivikua.

The Namibian understands that the board is trying to pin that contract on him, as an attempt to get rid of him.

The board also questioned Tjivikua's relationship with some business people whose companies benefited from TransNamib tenders.

Some of the tenders include D&M Rail Construction that got a multimillion-dollar contract to rehabilitate the Kranzberg-Tsumeb railway.

Businessmen James Hatuikulipi, who is in turn a friend and business partner of attorney general Sakeus Shanghala, owns D&M.

The two attended Tjivikua's wedding last year where a tie was auctioned for N$48 000 that was given to the couple.

Hatuikulipi confirmed attending Tjivikua's wedding and defended doing so saying the former acting chief executive has been his friend since childhood.

He said his presence at the wedding could not be viewed as a conflict of interest as their company dealt with the works ministry.

Tjivikua denied any conflict of interest, saying that he never signed any contract concerning D&M. Meanwhile, the works ministry is yet to approve Johnny Smith's contract as the new chief executive officer before he starts work next year. Smith was recruited in October. He was the boss at the Walvis Bay Corridor Group.

TransNamib has been tainted by controversial reports over the years, including millions spent on faulty locomotives, rehabilitation of the railway and its huge salary bill.

Over the years, TransNamib, who almost plead bankruptcy in June this year, had received millions in government bailouts.

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