Ex-ECN director's alleged fraud trial resumes in court

27 Aug 2013 09:20
WINDHOEK, 27 AUG (NAMPA) – The elections’ fraud trial of former Elections Director Philemon Kanime and two others resumed here on Tuesday, with defence lawyer Hennie Barnard cross-examining State witness Kristophina Udjombala.
Udjombala had given evidence in connection with the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN)'s preparations for the February 2008 municipal elections at Omuthiya in the Oshikoto Region.
She was the ECN's returning officer for the Omuthiya elections, and was entrusted with the overall responsibilities for the conducting of the electoral process at the town at the time.
Kanime is charged in the matter alongside the former president of the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) and member of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Magnus Nangombe, as well as the ECN’s Chief Systems’ Administrator, Nicodemus Mingelius.
Udjombala was asked by Barnard to shed more light on the alleged three copies of the voters' roll which were sent by courier to her at Omuthiya, allegedly by both the late ECN Chief Control Officer Hesekiel Shigwedha and Mingelius.
“When I received the mail-box containing the three copies of the voters' roll, I went straight to Ondangwa, and opened the mail-box in the presence of a magistrate.
Two copies of the voters' roll printed in blue colours were addressed to me, while the other one printed in a yellow colour was for the magistrate. When I conducted a thorough investigation of the two copies of the voters' roll addressed to me, I found that there were some discrepancies because Magnus Nangombe's name as a registered voter in the local authority of Omuthiya only appeared on one copy,” she explained.
According to her, although she did not tell the magistrate at Ondangwa that the copies of the voters' roll in her possession differed from each other, she officially communicated the information about the printing mistakes to her supervisors at the ECN’s head office in Windhoek.
The State alleges that Kanime and Mingelius had during the period between 06 to 19 February 2008 fraudulently gotten co-accused Nangombe registered as a voter in the local authority election of Omuthiya.
The State further alleges that Nangombe failed to register himself as a voter during the normal voters’ registration period from 04 to 08 February 2008, and that his name was fraudulently placed on the voters' roll after the end of the registration period when he was no longer entitled to be registered as a voter.
It is also alleged by the State that Nangombe and Mingelius had forged a voters' registration application document in Nangombe's name between 06 and 19 February 2008, and used this document to get his name placed on the questionable Omuthiya voters' roll.
Nangombe was set to be a candidate for the RDP in the Omuthiya local authority election, until his name was removed from the voters' roll, and the initial plans to hold the election were scrapped.
The three accused men, who each pleaded not guilty to all the alleged fraud charges, are on trial before Magistrate Sarel Jacobs in the Regional Court in Katutura along Mungunda Street.
The trial is set to run until Friday.
State Advocate Ed Marondedze is representing the prosecution, while Windhoek-based defence lawyers Barnard and Advocate Albert Strydom are defending the three accused.
According to the charge-sheet, Nangombe is listed as accused number one, followed by Mingelius and Kanime.
The trio face charges of fraud, and made their first court appearance in June 2009, shortly after the management of the ECN brought the fraud charges against them.
Kanime was put on 'special leave' in March 2008, while his deputy Ananias Elago, Shigwedha and accused Mingelius were all suspended for several months in the aftermath of the alleged Omuthiya elections' fraud scandal.
Elago, Mingelius and the late Shigwedha were reinstated five months later, but no disciplinary hearings were conducted against them.
The municipal elections were scheduled for 29 February 2008, but were called off at the last minute amidst accusations of inefficiency and questions about political-party loyalty.
The elections eventually took place on 26 September 2008.
Nangombe and Mingelius were both accused of having forged an application for registration as voters on form number 2004305280, dated 06 February 2008, according to court papers.
Kanime is accused of wrongfully, falsely and with intent to defraud, giving out and pretending to the Electoral Commission and/or Government that Nangombe was on 06 February 2008 lawfully and properly registered at Omuthiya for the election.
Nangombe and Mingelius were also charged on the same count.
Nangombe was listed as the RDP's candidate for the Omuthiya Town Council at the time.
The ECN later decided to remove his name from the list after the Swapo-Party claimed that Kanime had allegedly smuggled Nangombe onto the voters' roll as he had apparently registered after the official cut-off date.
Kanime hit back by saying that he did not know how the Swapo-Party got hold of the list of candidates, but he was sure that Nangombe had registered on time.
The Swapo-Party maintained their objection to the presence of Nangombe's name, along with the names of 11 others, on that list.
Kanime's 'special leave' lasted until his term of office ended at the end of September 2008.
He later officially left the governing Swapo-Party, and joined the RDP as a member.
The three accused are all free on a warning.