Fraud accused Manga Nawa-Mukena, her husband Joseph Mukena and Celestino Gabriel Antonio pleaded not guilty yesterday on several charges of fraud, alternatively theft, forgery, uttering, money laundering and obstructing or defeating the course of justice.
Nawa-Mukena faces 85 counts of fraud; she and her husband 85 counts on the alternative of theft, Nawa-Mukena alone 84 counts of forgery and uttering a forged document, all three accused a second count of forgery and uttering a forged document, the Mukenas one count of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, all three one count of money laundering, all three accused one count of obstructing or defeating the course of justice or attempting to do so, while Nawa-Mukena alone faces one count of contravening the Value Added Tax Act.
The prosecution says all charges emanate from the falsification of 80 invoices worth N$2 088 071 for advertising services.
According to court documents, between 1 April 2013 and 17 March 2017, Nawa-Mukena and her co-accused allegedly defrauded MultiChoice Namibia.
The documents further state that over three years, the trio falsified 85 invoices and enticed the television company to pay for advertising services that were never rendered by State-owned newspaper Kundana (PTY) Ltd.
Allegedly, the invoices were presented with banking details but not of Kundana (PTY) Ltd and, as such, the payments were made into the accused's accounts.
The matter is now being presiding over by Windhoek High Court judge Herman January after the accused successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to have acting judge Kobus Miller removed from the trial for alleged bias, as he was supposed to be the mediator between Nawa-Mukena and Multichoice Namibia in a civil suit the company has brought against her.
The mediation, however, never took place.
In a plea explanation of Nawa-Mukena, read into the record by their legal representative advocate Slysken Makando, instructed by Kalundu Kamwi, she claims that a company called Kundanam, which belongs to Antonio, was lawfully contracted by Multichoice to do some promotions for them, and that Roger Gertze and Annarien Vorster, the general manager and finance manager, respectively, signed off on the contract.
She further claims that as a natural consequence of checks and balances contained within the Multichoice payment policies, both Gertze and Vorster would have known that the bank account number of the invoices submitted by Antonio was in fact hers and was not pursuant to some fraudulent intent or act, but rather to assist Antonio, as he did not have a bank account of his own.
She further said the payment system at Multichoice is robust with multiple control points, with Gertze the last person to sign off on any payments made to service providers.
According to her, she vehemently denies the assertion that she, at any time, forged the signature of Gertze or any other person.
Her husband also provided a plea explanation in which he bluntly denies that he at any time conspired with anyone to defraud Multichoice and most certainly did not conspire with either Nawa-Mukena or Antonio or actively participated in any such scheme.