Three men arrested with semi-precious stones from Okorusu Mine

05 Jan 2015 18:00pm
OTJIWARONGO, 05 JAN (NAMPA) – Three men from Otjiwarongo are expected to appear in court on Wednesday on charges of theft and/or possession of illegal semi-precious stones, allegedly stolen from the Okorusu Fluorspar Mine.
Okorusu Fluorspar Mine is situated less than 50 kilometres north of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.
The Okorusu Fluorspar Mining Manager, Peter Mawoyo told Nampa in an interview on Monday that the stolen Fluorite Crystal stones are indeed from Okorusu, and are the most valued minerals at the mine.
He said the mining activities at Okorusu are currently on suspension since October 2014 due to the insufficient Fluorite Iron Ore in the mine’s territory.
Mawoyo said it is not known when the stones were allegedly smuggled out of the mine.
He said a total of 427 employees were retrenched last year October, but 30 of them secured their jobs back and were tasked to maintain and take care of the mine on a renewal contract basis.
“We are however now concerned that some of these employees are busy stealing the remaining valuable minerals of the mine,” he said.
Mawoyo said the stones are often polished with hydro-fluoric acid when producing the final crystal products which are mostly used in decorating people’s homes.
The Mining Manager said out of the three arrested suspects, two are employees of Okorusu and are banned from entering the mine’s pit territory.
Mawoyo said the employees might have smuggled the stones and exited the mine through the back by jumping over the fence, to avoid security check at the front gate.
He suspects the syndicate might have been going-on for long before this incident.
Mawoyo said the company's policy prohibits employees exiting the mine's pit with a mineral material.
“Therefore, the two employees might face possible dismals as per our policies,” he said.
On his part, the Okorusu Fluorspar Mineral Resources Manager, Daniel Machoko said the stones, which are still raw materials, are estimated to weight 150 kilograms (kg) and has a street value of N.dollars 10 000.
Machoko suspects the two might have a direct buyer who buys the stones in bulks.
The Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Otjozondjupa Regional Public Relations Officer, Warrant Officer Maureen Mbeha on Monday confirmed the arrest of the three men linked to the semi-precious stones in an interview with Nampa.
Mbeha said the men were arrested on Friday night at approximately 23h00 at a police permanent roadblock mounted outside Otjiwarongo on Otjiwarongo-Otavi road.
She said the police officers who were on duty had first suspected their (three men) sedan vehicle to have been overloaded.
However, when it was stopped and searched, some heavy semi-precious stones were found on it.
The trio was only arrested on Monday morning.
They are expected to appear in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate’s Court on charges of theft from employer and/or possession of semi-precious stones without a licence, Mbeha said.
Police investigations in the matter continue.