26 Jan 2014 13:40pm
WINDHOEK, 25 JAN (NAMPA) More than 10 Angolan nationals looking for schools in Windhoek have fallen prey to scamsters pretending to act on behalf of schools to enroll new learners.
The City Police on Friday afternoon arrested one suspect who lured a desperate young woman into giving him N.dollars 20 000 over a period of two weeks on the promise that the money would get herself and other family members into local schools and hostels.
The young woman, Johanna Imanuel, said she became suspicious on Friday after the suspect refused to leave his house in Windhoek West that same morning to update her on when her cousins could start school.
Imanuel told Nampa on Friday that she met the suspect, whose name is known but cannot be mentioned at this stage, in a taxi on 13 January 2014.
The suspect asked if she was looking for a place in school, to which she replied yes - a place in Grade 9 for herself and place in lower grades for four cousins.
The suspect then convinced her to pay him N.dollars 1 800 to find her space at schools - the money would apparently be used to pay for the application forms.
He gave her his contact details as well as his home address.
The suspect later reduced the asking fee to N.dollars 1 500, which Imanuel paid, and also handed him their passports, academic reports, birth certificates and other documents - all originals.
He apparently found space at the Jan Möhr Secondary School for Imanuel and one of her cousins, and proof thereof was a hand-written letter containing the letterhead of that school, which stated that her application at the school was successful.
The suspect then asked for an additional N.dollars 1 200, which he claimed was to pay for more application forms.
Later the same week, he asked for N.dollars 10 000 to pay the principal of that school, but did not provide reasons why the principal had to be paid.
The suspect then brought her a stationery list from that school.
It later transpired that such lists are easily obtainable.
The suspect met with all the children on Wednesday this week, and assured them that their places at school were secured and that they could start the following day.
Imanuel told this reporter that when she went to look at one of the hostels of the schools her cousins were enrolled in, she found the hostels in poor condition.
He called me to ask for N.dollars 400 to buy mattresses and padlocks for the lockers at those hostels, and threatened that the kids will not start school if I don't give him the money, she said, adding that she informed him that she was not happy about the condition of the hostels.
The suspect then stopped communication with her and turned his mobile phone off, which prompted Imanuel to go to his house in Windhoek West on Friday, but he locked himself in.
I even called his wife, but she just said she would be there in five minutes, but I waited almost four hours for her. The wife just kept driving past to check if we have left, she said.
That is when I called the police. All I want now is my money, because N.dollars 20 000 is a lot of money as well as our documents, Imanuel said.
She said that the total sum of money handed over to him is N.dollars 20 000, which was for school uniforms, stationery, application forms, remuneration to him, and his taxi fares.
Immanuel is not the only victim, as more Angolan nationals related a similar ordeal to Nampa on Friday, while waiting to give their statements to the police.
The suspect told City Police officers he was acting on instructions from an employee of the Ministry of Education (MoE), and that he was just the mediator between the schools and the Angolan nationals.
The suspect also claimed that the money was given to the MoE employee, and that the agreement was that the he would get N.dollars 1 600 as commission for every learner he finds placement at schools.
The suspect will appear in the Windhoek Magistrates Court on Monday.
Senior Superintendent Gerry Shikesho warned the public to be alert, especially at the beginning of the academic year, and when large amounts of money is involved.
He also cautioned the public not to involve themselves in transactions outside school or tertiary institution offices.
These criminals have even come up with a new method lately of fabricating false receipts. Therefore, we urge the public to be careful and to observe the basics, he said.
More suspects are expected to be arrested and brought to book.