Alleged gem thief Namupolo still on the run

25 Feb 2014 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 25 FEB (NAMPA) – One of the four men implicated in one of the largest diamond robberies in Namibian history, is still on the run.
Gabriel Namupolo is still at large after he had allegedly disappeared sometime over the past two years while free on bail of N.dollars 5 000.
The absence of the 34-year-old Namupolo, who is accused number four in the matter, has now forced the continuation of the alleged diamond robbery trial to be remanded until 25 March this year in order to enable the Namibian Police’s investigating officers to trace him and bring him before court.
“Accused number four is still on the run. Both members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol)'s Diamond Theft and Serious Crime Units are now hard at work in order track the accused person down and bring him before court,” Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef said as she asked High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo for a postponement.
Namupolo also disappeared during May 2010, and his absence resulted in the trial being postponed several times.
He was, however, re-arrested and after he gave valid reasons before court in connection with his absence, his bail of N.dollars 5000 was reinstated.
As a result of Namupolo's absence before court on Tuesday, a warrant for his immediate arrest was again re-issued by presiding High Court Judge Ndauendapo upon a request by State representative Verhoef.
Namupolo's State-funded lawyer Gerson Narib told the court that he also has no knowledge of his client's whereabouts.
Fugitive Namupolo is on trial in the matter together with his co-accused, former Namdeb Diamond Corporation employees Petrus Nujoma Kapia, 35, Amon Ndjukuma, 40, and 35-year-old Elvis Nixon Tangeni Kalipi.
Meanwhile, State-sponsored defence lawyers Advocate Winnie Christiaans, Mese Tjituri and Clive Kavendjii who are representing the other three accused persons, have asked the court for a separation of the trial if fugitive Namupolo is not apprehended before or on 25 March this year.
The group (all four men) is accused of having been involved in an alleged armed robbery in which mining gravel containing some 1 692 carats of unpolished diamonds, valued at N.dollars 6,23 million, was allegedly stolen at Namdeb's Daberas Mine along the Orange River in the Oranjemund district on 10 November 2003.
The four men are facing seven main charges - counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, attempted murder, crossing the Namibian border at a place that was not a designated port of entry, two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and another charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
According to the indictment, it is alleged that during the night of 09 November 2003, Ndjukuma and Namupolo woke up a Namdeb employee, Klemens Matyayi, at Daberas Mine, held him at gunpoint and robbed him of a Toyota Hilux bakkie that belonged to Namdeb and was in his possession at the time.
They then allegedly tied Matyayi up, kidnapped him and dropped him off next to a road leading to a rubbish dump, tying him to a tree and covering his eyes and mouth with masking tape.
It is charged that the four accused thereafter went to a control room at the mine, where they broke open the door of a security office.
It is alleged that when one of the security officers at the premises, Jacques Burger, encountered them, Ndjukuma fired a shot at him.
Another security officer, Gottlieb Cornelius, who tried to get hold of the firearm, was hit on the head with a crowbar and also kicked.
Burger and Cornelius were both tied up, whereafter the alleged gang of four men took another mine employee, Johannes van Wyk, to the mine's recovery plant, where they forced him to open the safe.
The accused persons allegedly took about 18 tin cans with diamond-rich gravel, and left the scene in the stolen Toyota bakkie.
They then left Namibia by crossing the Orange River into neighbouring South Africa.
After some information was received about the alleged robbery, the Namibian Police arrested Kapia.
He was working at the Daberas Mine hostel at the time.
Kapia had allegedly pointed out some 100 unpolished diamonds that had been hidden in his room.
Kapia was arrested on 18 November 2003.
Ndjukuma's arrest followed on 02 February 2004, while Kalipi was arrested on 17 February 2004 and fugitive Namupolo on 25 March 2004.
After the arrests, Kalipi had allegedly pointed out a place near the Orange River where another 100 unpolished diamonds were discovered.
A total of 440 unpolished diamonds were recovered by the police, out of the estimated 1 941 stones that had been stolen during the alleged robbery.
Ndjukuma, Kapia and Kalipi are free on warning, and were again on Tuesday warned to appear before court on 25 March 2014.