12 June 2018

Namibia: Paulus Kapia Pleads for Mercy

Windhoek — Former deputy minister and youth activist Paulus Kapia yesterday pleaded for mercy from the court, asking that he be given a suspended sentence as he has suffered enough, both politically and financially, since the unraveling of the N$30 million that went missing from the state-owned Social Security Commission.

"Mr Kapia has been humbled over the years. He has paid immensely for his actions and the effects are devastating," his privately-funded defence lawyer Sisa Namandje said during submission in mitigation of sentence.

Namandje told the court that Kapia needs a second chance and proposed that the court should hand Kapia a wholly suspended sentence or a fine. "Imprisonment will not be appropriate as he has not benefited anything and he is a first-time offender," noted Namandje. Kapia, along with other co-accused, was convicted of fraud for the role he played in convincing the Social Security Commission to invest N$30 million with Avid in 2005, an entity that purported to be an asset management company.

The money was never seen again.

In May the court convicted Kapia on a charge of fraud together with Inez /Gâses and Ralph Blaauw, but discharged him on the second count of conducting business in a reckless or fraudulent manner.

Namandje noted that Kapia started paying for the criminal deeds before he was even convicted.

Namandje explained that Kapia moved from being a Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) leader, National Assembly member and deputy minister of works to now serving Swapo at constituency level. This, says Namandje, is indicative of a huge political downfall.

Namandje said the 50-year-old Kapia told the court that he has thus far spent over N$3 million in legal fees and currently owes his lawyer more than N$100,000. Kapia made his plea in the hope that the court would show mercy when passing sentence.

Kapia, a former firebrand youth activist, worked his way up to become the first deputy minister of works in the government of then President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

The accused Sharon Blaauw was only convicted on the charge of conducting business in a reckless or fraudulent manner.

The sole shareholder of Namangol Investments, Nico Josea, was found guilty of theft by conversion and reckless or fraudulent conduct of business.

According to court documents, Namangol received N$29.5 million from a bank account of Avid after the SSC's N$30 million was transferred to that account.

The pre-sentencing hearing continues in the High Court.

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