Two men, accused of stealing 453 pieces of unpolished diamonds from a vessel owned and operated by Debmarine Namibia, pleaded not guilty to all charges yesterday before Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg.
The suspects, Emmanuel Shikololo and Rodney Klim, who are both aged 48, are accused of stealing diamonds with a combined weight of 668.26 carats, valued at N$6.2 million from the diamond mining vessel Debmar Atlantic between September and November 2011.
They are facing one count of theft of unpolished diamonds, alternatively possession of unpolished diamonds and one count of conspiracy to commit an offence.
It is alleged that between September 2011 and 6 November 2011, at or near Oranjemund, the accused unlawfully and intentionally stole 453 pieces of unpolished diamonds - or that during the period in question, they were in the unlawful possession of the gemstones.
The conspiracy charge allege they wrongfully and unlawfully conspired to aid or procure the commission of or to commit an offence.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, Shikololo and Klim were employed at the vessel as plant hand and process controller, respectively.
They initiated a plan, where they lobbied security officer Dawid Jarvis on the vessel to allow them to smuggle the diamonds they intended to steal, the indictment reads.
It is further alleged that during October 2011, the accused arranged a trip to Cape Town for the security officer with them to meet the potential buyer of the stolen diamonds.
Furthermore, the indictment states, the accused deliberately blocked the vacuum air transfer unit on the vessel, which resulted in the vacuum pressure to increase to above normal levels and warranted the manual intervention to empty the pipe.
Shikololo then, under the guise of unblocking the airlifts, entered the recovery plant, where he picked up the diamonds. It is further said that on 6 November 2011, Shikololo called Jarvis to the forward stores, where he handed him a yellow bag containing the unpolished diamonds for him to smuggle them out of the vessel and deliver them to the buyer in Cape Town.
However, immediately after the handover, Shikololo, who was under surveillance from security personnel, was apprehended.
Yesterday Jarvis testified and told the court how he was approached by Shikololo.
According to him, he was on a different shift, as Shikololo and the latter approached him to change shifts so they could be on the same shift.
He further said Shikololo told him there is something on the ship that he wishes to remove.
Jarvis further said he immediately informed his superiors at the company and it was agreed he would play along.
He further said during subsequent conversations with Shikololo, he was informed Klim was also involved.
He further told the court about two times when Klim would call him, telling him there was a problem with the airlifts and whether Shikololo could enter what he called the Red Area, which is where unpolished diamonds are found.
During those times, he said, Shikololo would walk under an iron grid, where he could not follow him on the CCTV - and that after he was done, he could not find anything during a body search on Shikololo.
The trial continues today.
Shikololo and Klim are free on bail.
They are represented by legal aid lawyers Meriam Kandoni and Loretha Muvangua, respectively.
Ian Malumani is representing the State.