Namibia’s leading analysts across the political and civil society spectrum have hailed the recent judgement laid down by Judge Christie Liebenberg in the Avid-Social Security Commission corruption case which sent politically connected Nico Josea to the gallows for 17 years.
The judgement goes down in history as the first to be laid down on a high profile corruption saga implicating powerful political appointees involving millions of dollars.
Analysts that spoke to The Villager indicated that it further reaffirmed the independence of the justice system in the country and absolves the ruling Swapo party from accusations that it protects “sacred cows” as far as investigations and prosecution are concerned.
Director for Citizens for an Accountable and Transparent Society Carola Engelbrecht said the ruling sets an example for would be offenders as far as corruption is concerned.
“We hope it sends a message and that people will be afraid to be involved in corruption, hopefully. The judge indicated as well that those who got fined had suffered as much as a result of this trial,” she said.
Political Hoze Riruako said the case goes far enough to show that the principle of checks and balances is effective and alive in the country.
“This case had nothing to do with Swapo, or government, it was about individuals so it shows that the courts are able to do their job with no interference. It’s called separation of powers meaning the president can not tell the courts what to do and the courts can not tell him what to do as well with regards to their functions,” he said.
University of Namibia academic and political commentator, Ndumba Kamwanyah said for the first time in Namibia’s justice system people can see that at least some people have been convicted on issues pertaining to corruption.
“This case comes a long way and the public has been crying to see that justice has ben done to make sure that the people that are involved are held accountable for their actions. So in some way I think it sends a good message to other people out there that the law has a long hand,” he said.
However, Kamwanyah has pointed out that given that the judge had to derive his ruling based on available evidence and technical information, he turned out to be lenient on Ralph Blaauw and his wife Sharon, former deputy minister Paulus Kapia and Inez /Gases.
“He should have looked at the amount that went missing but also he should have looked at the roles they played as politicians. We know that Nico got a harsh sentence because he was directly involved in the transaction but we should also not undermine the role both politicians played in influencing whatever transaction happened,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Avid/SSC case stems from an amount of N$30 million by SSC which was put in the hands of an inexperienced company (Avid) which was to handle the investments.
However, the investments were diverted into the private pockets of Lazarus Kandara who died in front of the court on his way to spill more beans together with a South African national Allan Rosenberg and Josea.
The rest of the Avid employees, although they did not benefit anything from the funds, as the court found, were found guilty of failing to protect the monies, misrepresenting to the SSC managers that Kandara was not a part of them.
Meanwhile, word has it that Josea may appeal his judgement to the supreme court but speaking to The Villager a few minutes before his trial, he said, ‘Everything is in the hands of God now.”
The judgement day painted contrasting images in the fully packed court room with the fined letting out sighs of relief while Josea was whisked away to serve his sentence.
The case had damaging effects on his political career which came crushing down and affected his son who is finding it hard to get an employment due to the tarnished family name.
For the Blaauws, the case threatened to rip apart their family given that they have children who depended on them but who also suffered stigma as a result of their parents’ predicament worsened by savage media coverage.