Magistrate refuses to preside over Otjozondjupa fraud trial

01 Sep 2016 17:20pm
OTJIWARONGO, 01 SEP (NAMPA) - Otjiwarongo District Magistrate Helvi Shilemba said she cannot continue to preside over the fraud case involving 15 employees of the Health Ministry in the Otjozondjupa Region.
“I cannot attend to these people, they are too many and my court roll is too full,” she announced on Wednesday during the first court appearance of the health workers including nurses, a dentist, ambulance drivers, cleaners, and two accountants.
They are accused of having defrauded the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ Otjozondjupa Regional Directorate of about N.dollars 8.2 million between 2006 and 2014.
She told the Control State Prosecutor Lewis Chigunwe to find another magistrate to handle the case.
Chigunwe said the matter will be discussed with the relevant authority.
The accused in the Otjozondjupa fraud case include Lucresia Matsuis; Jenneveva Namboa; Dr Esther Namwandi; Andrew Neidel; Frieda Fillemon; Engine Sawas; Josephine Lifumbela and Berreldine Narib.
Others are Christine Ndeutapo; Laurentia Narubes; Temos Mutewa; Sana Dauses; Magdalena Horases; Victoria Hases and Selma Hindulua.
They were arrested Wednesday morning after the police’s serious crime unit completed intensive investigations in a fraud case that was opened in May 2014 by the office of the Otjozondjupa regional health director.
The suspects were remanded in police custody after Public Prosecutor Johannes Nunuheb strongly opposed bail, saying they might interfere with police investigations.
The case was postponed to 13 October 2016 to afford them time to acquire legal representation and to allow for further police investigations.
Most of the accused are long-serving staff members of the ministry in the Grootfontein, Otjiwarongo and Okahandja health districts.
It is alleged that they on numerous occasions submitted false travel and overtime claims for trips they never undertook.
These claims were processed successfully and money paid into their bank accounts.
Preliminary police investigations indicate that some of them deposited money into the bank accounts of the two accountants (Namboa and Matsuis) based at the regional office at Otjiwarongo.