Windhoek — An attempt to be released on bail by three Angolan nationals who were caught with more than N$2.2 million in cash at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) failed after the court denied their request.
Magistrate Kalla Kanyenga denied the release of Maria Combua, 46, Helena Samba Pintal, 35, and Beatriz Antunes, 47, on bail on Friday in the Katutura Magistrates' Court.
According to the court, the state has proven beyond reasonable doubt that there is a strong prima facie case against the accused. Magistrate Kanyenga explained that money laundering is an international crime that transits borders and many people get away with it.
The state strongly opposed the release of the group on bail. According to state prosecutor Edel Uupindi, there is fear the accused will abscond and not stand trial, as there is no fixed address of where they reside. Furthermore, the state fears they might interfere with ongoing investigations.
The group are facing two charges of unlawful export of currency and disguising unlawful origin of a property, charges they have pleaded not guilty to.
The charges stem from the accused allegedly being found in possession of US$150 190 (N$2 162 736), € 6250 (N$1 001 11.05) and N$4 083 in their possession. In total, the accused were found with N$2 262 847.05.
The group had allegedly hidden the money in their brassieres, disposable diapers (that they were wearing), in between shoe soles and waistbands. More money was found in the accused's hand bags that were hidden in their luggage.
According to the investigating officer Detective Sargent Erwin Serogwe, the accused failed to declare the amount of money in their possession, which the police believes is from illegal activities.
According to Serongwe, Combua and her co-accused almost got away if it was not for Combua who triggered the scanners with her metal hair clipper. This allegedly forced the immigration officers to conduct a thorough search to determine what had caused the scanners to go off. That is when they discovered the money. Pintal and Antunes got caught when they went searching for Combua.
The group could allegedly not provide the police with proper papers that would indicate the money indeed belongs to them or they are permitted to carry large sums of money out of Angola. The police, however, are yet to determine the destination of the money.
The court postponed the case to 28 January for further police investigations. Local defence lawyer Samson Enkali is representing the accused.