Nepotism Allegations Continue at Katutura Court

Allegations of corruption and nepotism continue to surface at the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura, with some senior clerks allegedly hiring close relatives and friends to serve as casual clerks.

Disgruntled staff members have accused the court’s control clerk, Hyrum Rittman, of practising nepotism at the court.

Rittman and some senior staff members are said to be disregarding recruitment procedures by hiring their relatives, usurping a task, which normally is the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Justice’s human resource department.

“As per normal procedure, Rittman is supposed to forward the number of casuals needed at the courts to the human resources department. This has not been happening since he has been doing the recruitment himself,” revealed the source. The source also indicated that the court now has an over-supply of casual clerks while casual interpreters are understaffed.

Rittman could neither deny nor confirm the allegations, but instead threatened to take The Namibian to court. “Ask the person who supplied you with lies to provide proof. I have nothing to say to you and your provider of lies. If this does not stop now, I will open a criminal case against you,” he said.

A total of 19 casual clerks have reportedly been hired at the court through blood-relations and are said to be on the court’s payroll without employment contracts for more than five years.

This is the second nepotism incident plaguing the court in less than a year. During a meeting held in March last year where all staff were present, the Director of Court Services, Innocent Kandandu, reportedly gave a directive that all casual workers should only be in the employ of the court for three months, however, sources say those workers are currently still roaming the court.

An inside source told The Namibian that court policy dictates that an ordinary clerk should temporarily serve at the court not more than three to five months. According to the source, each of the clerks earns N$6 240 per month, with a total N$118 560 being spent on their salaries per year. Reports have also surfaced that casual clerks at the court have outnumbered permanent staff within certain departments as the number of casual clerks continues to increase.

“These clerks have been in the employment of the court for more than five years and are currently being paid over the counter at the court’s maintenance office, meaning they are not even paying income tax,” said the source.

Kandandu declined to comment, referring The Namibian to the Ministry of Justice’s Permanent Secretary, Issaskar Ndjoze.

Ndjoze said he was not aware of the nepotism allegations at the court but said that he would look into it.

“There had been reports of such a nature a year ago but I thought they were already addressed, so I’m not aware of these fresh allegations. I will consult Kandandu and investigate,” he said.

Source : The Namibian