Nujoma Denies Mafia Ties

THE land reform minister Utoni Nujoma says he is offended at The Namibian’s suggestion that he was a known friend of convicted mafioso Vito Roberto Palazzolo, also adding that the newspaper did not give him a chance to give his version of events before publishing the story.

“You are a liar, this person (Palazzolo) is not my friend,” he said after The Namibian contacted him for land reform-related matters, before dropping the phone.

Nujoma later called back to set the record straight on his alleged friendship with Palazzolo.

“You lied. You must stop that nonsense,” said Nujoma, referring to an article headlined ‘Italians after Palazzolo’s riches’ carried in The Namibian last Friday. In the article it was reported that he was a known friend of Palazzolo.

Nujoma said the fact that he, as a responsible citizen, had spoken to Palazzolo, as he did with other businessmen like late Harold Pupkewitz, does not necessarily mean he was a close friend of Palazzolo.

“We could not smell that he had committed a crime. How do you know when speaking to a person that he had committed a crime if he doesn’t tell you?” Nujoma remarked.

Nujoma then defended Palazzolo, saying that the Italian possessed all legitimate documents for his stay in Namibia and that Palazzolo had not committed any crime in Namibia or in South Africa.

“As the saying goes, you are ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and Palazzolo was never proven guilty in either Namibia or South Africa. For us there was no pronouncement that Palazzo was proven guilty,” said Nujoma.

Nujoma further expressed dismay that no journalist had approached him before writing about his friendship with Palazzolo which he termed as “nonsense”.

“I have not spoken to any other journalist (about this matter), except you today,” said Nujoma.

The Namibian sent questions regarding Nujoma’s friendship with Palazzolo to the ministry of justice where he was the minister, before being moved to the land reform ministry.

Justice ministry spokesperson Simon Idipo, responded by saying: “On the allegation of Mr Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko being a friend to the minister of justice, the Honourable minister Utoni Nujoma has denied the allegations that he is a friend to Mr Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko aka Vito Palazzolo.”

Nujoma’s younger brother Zacky is a friend and a business partner of Palazzolo.

Source : The Namibian