Kapia Tells Court He’s Been Suffering

“I have been suffering in my political career and my personal life because of this unwarranted prosecution against me,” Swapo MP Paulus Kapia told Judge Christi Liebenberg on Wednesday during his plea.

Kapia and his six co-accused in the trial that has become known as the Avid Saga all pleaded not guilty to all charges they face in connection with a botched N$30-million investment deal involving the Social Security Commission (SSC). Kapia denies all allegations against him in his personal capacity and not as a former director of Avid Investment Corporation and puts the burden of proof on the shoulders of the State. “I challenge the complainant to produce records of meetings implicating me,” Kapia charged. According to his plea explanation read into the record by his legal representative, Sisa Namandje, he denied any common purpose with his co-accused or any SSC officials in defrauding the state-owned enterprise.

“I never associated myself with anyone involved in this scam and the proceedings are just an afterthought after a failed commercial transaction,” Kapia stressed. Werner Boesak who read Inez Gacircses’ plea explanation into the record told the court that she was induced by the late Lazarus Kandara to become involved with Avid.

“At first I was hesitant, but because he was my relative, I later decided to join.” Although she was the de facto chairperson of the board, she said she never attended any board meetings and that Kandara was the one in charge. She said that although she was co-signatory to the bank accounts of Avid, Kandara was the one who pulled the strings and whenever she questioned him about something he was quick to re-assure her.

The lawyer for Otniel Podelwitz also denied any wrongdoing on the part of his client. Christie Mostert told the judge that although Podelwitz was a director of Avid he did not attend any board meeting and never received any payment from either Kandara or Avid. He said that Podelwitz was a director only from May to November 2004 when he resigned after being appointed to the presidential committee of inquiry into the SSC’s affairs. Sharon Blaauw denied all the charges against her.

She said she was approached by Kandara in 2004 to become a director in Avid. As she did not know much about the business the company was involved in, she asked her husband to look into the matter and aise her. She said that she became a director on the aice of her husband, but was never invited to any board meetings or signed any documents.

She said that the State’s allegation that she knew Nico Josea of Namangol Investments was a total fabrication. She denied having received any monetary compensation from either Kandara or Avid and further denied ever being involved in any discussions involving the SSC. Her husband Ralph Blaauw who was also represented by Mostert also denied all charges and stated that he was never a director or shareholder of Avid. He however told the court that he was a believer in the company and promoted it at every chance he got.

But, he said, he never told anyone that the president or the Swapo Youth League was involved with Avid. He also gly denied ever receiving any money from Kandara or Avid. Retired Brigadier Mathias Shiweda told the court through his lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, that he was introduced to Avid by Ralph Blaauw in 2004. He said that Blaauw then introduced him to Kandara and while initially sceptical as Kandara was implicated in the presidential enquiry, he was assured that Kandara was not involved.

He said he became convinced when Avid secured a N$10-million investment deal with Navachab gold mine. He added that the only dealings he had with the SSC was when he went with Gacircses to meet Gideon Mulder of the SSC, ostensibly because none of the other directors was available. Shiweda said that although he was informed by Ralph Blaauw that he (Shiweda) owned 8 percent of shares in Avid, he never received a share certificate nor did he pay any money for the shares.

“I thought that I received the shares for my business knowledge and acumen,” he stated in his plea explanation. Nico Josea, who is represented by Slysken Makando on instructions of the Legal Aid Department, just simply denied any involvement in the SSC deal. He said he knew Kandara and Kandara had told him he had N$30-million to invest. According to Josea, Kandara previously invested through his company, Namangol Investments.

This time, however, Kandara wanted to meet his traders and he introduced Kandara to Frik Blaauw and Alan Rosenberg in South Africa. Shortly thereafter Kandara deposited N$29.5 million into the bank account of Namangol Investments and instructed him to invest N$20 million with Rosenberg and to find a high risk investment for N$6.3 million. He was further instructed to retain the remaining N$3.2 million pending further instructions. He denied ever knowing that the money came from the SSC. The State’s first witness Gideon Mulder told the court that he knew Kapia as the latter did some business with him at the SSC.

He said that it was Kapia who introduced him to Avid Investment in the company of Gacircses. But he said he had most of his dealings with Ralph Blaauw, while he had one encounter with Shiweda regarding Avid. He further said that Podelwitz also spoke to him about Avid at least once, but that he never had dealings with either Sharon Blaauw or Nico Josea. He said that the first time he heard of a company called Avid Investment was when his immediate supervisor, Avril Green, came into his office and enquired why Avid was not on the list of possible asset management companies vying to invest SSC funds. He further said that a letter was written to Avid from the office of the SSC informing them to deal directly with the SSC. The case continues and all the accused are out on bail.

Source : New Era