Outjo Hails Koen Sentence

Outjo Municipality Mayor Kleofas Gaingob has expressed satisfaction with the sentence meted out to its former treasurer, Dawid Koen, who was jailed for theft of N$1,1 million.

Koen was on Tuesday sent to prison for 12 years but his jail term could stretch to 18 years if he fails to pay a fine of N$350 000 that was imposed with the sentence.

While he regretted that the council did not recover the stolen money and the costs of damage to its infrastructure, Gaingob said justice has prevailed and that council abided by the court’s decision.

He said the sentence should be a message to all town and village councils to serve the people who put them in positions of trust.

Koen, who was the treasurer of Outjo for more than nine years, pleaded guilty before Judge Alfred Siboleka in May to charges of arson, defeating the course of justice and theft. He was sentenced to spend the next 12 years behind bars on the arson and defeating the course of justice charges.

Koen pleaded guilty to 60 of the theft counts totalling an amount of N$1,1 million out of a total of 112 counts. The theft was an alternative count to the main count of fraud to which he pleaded not guilty.

He also denied the first alternative to the fraud charge which was theft – general deficiency.

Koen was originally charged with 112 counts of theft for pocketing monies totalling N$1,7 million paid to the Outjo Municipality for services rendered to residents between 2007 and 2009.

He however denied 52 of the theft charges totalling N$551 229 and the State represented by Aocate Ed Marondedze did not pursue these charges, but opted to accept Koen’s guilty plea on the other charges.

During sentencing Judge Siboleka labelled the crimes as “clearly of the worst to be committed by a high-ranking local authority official that have found their rightful place on this court’s criminal court books”.

In mitigation Koen told the court he started stealing at the municipality as he could not manage his finances and that he drank heavily to suppress his guilt.

On hearing that a financial audit was about to be conducted at the Outjo Town Council, he – in a drunken stupour – set the offices of the town council on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence. Judge Siboleka said in his view Koen’s personal circumstances were heavily outweighed by the aggravating circumstances. He said that Koen pleaded not guilty to fraud because he knew he destroyed all relevant documentation that could prove his fraudulent activities.

According to the judge, development at the town was brought to a standstill as a result of creditors closing municipal accounts due to a severe cash-flow problem.

According to Judge Siboleka the fact that history books and records dating back to 1944 as well as graveyard registers and creditor payment registers were destroyed and lost forever through the actions of Koen, counted heavily against him (Koen).

He said that the chronic depression Koen was suffering was self inflicted and more aggravating than mitigating.

Judge Siboleka said that Koen was in a position of trust which he breached, that he dismally failed the residents of Outjo and humiliated them by stealing the monies they paid to the municipality for various services.

Source : New Era

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