Blaauws’ statements evidence in Avid/SSC scandal

WINDHOEK: Sworn statements by two suspects in the Avid Investment and Social Security Commission (SSC) fraud case were on Monday admitted as evidence before court.

The two suspects are former Acting Secretary-General of the National Youth Council (NYC) Ralph Blaauw and his wife Sharon Blaauw.

The couple gave the sworn statements to Namibian Police (NamPol) investigating officer Samuel Zambue when he questioned them in April 2008 about their alleged involvement in the fraud case.

The two, along with five other persons, are on trial in the High Court here after they were arrested in April 2008 in connection with the N.dollars 30 million Avid Investment/SSC fraud.

The admission of the Blaauw couple’s sworn statements before court is a heavy blow to the couple as these statements will now be used by the court against them during the remainder of the trial, especially during the handing down of judgment and sentencing.

These statements were ruled admissible before court in a ruling handed down by High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg at the finalisation of the hearing of a trial-within-a-trial in respect of the two persons’ sworn statements on Monday.

“The accused persons were advised to consult their respective lawyers before they gave the statements but they opted not to do so. The two accused persons were also properly informed of their Constitutional rights before they made the statements,” said the judge in his ruling.

Trial continues Tuesday.

The seven suspects on trial were all directors in the little-known Avid Investment Asset Management Company, which had some links to the ruling Swapo Party.

The others are Windhoek businessman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Namangol Asset Management Company, Nico Josea; former Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communication and Swapo politician Paulus Kapia; Avid Investment’s Administrative Secretary Inez //Gases; Labour Ministry official and lawyer Otniel Podewiltz, as well as retired Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Brigadier, Mathias Shiweda.

These former Avid Investment directors are each separately charged with about 10 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, corruption and giving false evidence in an inquiry in terms of the Companies’ Act No 28 of 2004.

The disappearance of the money led to a High Court inquiry before Acting Judge Raymond Heathcote in 2005.

Local lawyers comprising of Sisa Namandje, Kasper Gilroy, Werner Boesak, Attorney Jan Wessels and Slysken Makando are defending the seven accused persons.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze, being assisted by State Advocate Cliff Lutibezi, is appearing for the prosecution.

All suspects are free on bail of N.dollars 10 000 each, and their bail was on Monday extended until Tuesday for the continuation of the trial.