The third accused in a case in which N$11.4 million was fraudulently solicited from acquaintances and family members by promising unrealistic profits in return has protested in the Windhoek high court that he has suffered “inhuman conditions” while in police holding cells.
Making his submission to the court through his lawyer yesterday morning, Jesaja Jeremia (JJ) van Niekerk said he was showering cold water under extreme cold weather due to a drop in temperatures witnessed recently.
He also said that he was bathing in a room without a roof and could see the sky while a mash wire only covered it, describing his purported predicament as undesirable.
He said he was staying in a cell which accommodated more than one person and had been incarcerated for 18 days without access to his medication for blood pressure.
Windhoek Correctional Services’ assistant commissioner, Nauyele Shalihu, who took to the witness stand said she could not believe that such conditions existed saying a roofless building would give a chance of escape to offenders.
She has 21 years of experience in her line of work and is oversees activity within the facility’s clinic, she told the court.
“I am wondering. I don’t want to represent the police cells but I don’t think it would be possible for people to shower and see the clouds. It’s hard to believe,” she said.
She said while she could not deny or accept that this was indeed happening but she had no power to influence anything that goes on within police cells as it was not a part of her work.
However, the defence council representing the accused put it to her that she was being asked questions and whether she regarded such conditions as in keeping with how those in holding cells should be kept, given that she had two decades of experience.
She did accept that the cells held more than one person while the facility held between 700 to 800 inmates with about six social workers working there.
She challenged the accused on why he had kept silent if his medication was not being provided: “Can I clear it my Lord, we’re providing medicine from public hospitals. Absence of medicine can only come about if there are delays at these hospitals,” she said.
Van Niekerk is still in custody together with his wife Melanie Grace van Niekerk and an accomplice Charles van Rensburg and they used to run a business called West Coast Financial Aid cc.
The trio entered court back in 2015 with 256 counts of fraud, 256 counts of conducting banking business without a licence and one count of reckless or fraudulent carrying on of a business.
Their business has been found to have been a way to con people of their money via cash loans which the court found to be nothing but a carefully thought out scam.