Sale of War Veteran’s House Probed

THE Windhoek municipality has set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sale of a house in Katutura belonging to a deceased Swapo veteran last year after staff raised the red flag over the manner in which the matter was handled.

Even though details are yet to be released, it was established that a fictitious account was created to pay off the debt after the house was sold at an auction.

Joshua Amukugo, the municipality’s public relations manager, confirmed the investigation on Tuesday but declined to say much because he explained the matter was confidential.

Frieda Kahaanga, who died in March this year, had her house in Fillemon Eichab Street auctioned in 2013 to recover a N$54 000 debt owed to the municipality. She was at the time waiting for a N$200 000 project sponsorship from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs with the hope of generating funds to clear the debt.

In a bid to stop the sale of her property, Kaahanga approached the municipality’s chief executive officer, Niilo Taapopi, for help.

Taapopi confirmed being approached by Kahaanga for help on 5 October 2013.

“The lady came to my office and explained her situation. I called the head of the debt management department to help her as part of our social responsibility. I never gave any order for fictitious amounts to be given,” he said.

The debt manager, Ben Ngairorue, put Kahaanga’s name on Johannes Aoxamub’s account that was paid up in an effort to stop the sale. Despite this effort, the house was sold.

Internal auditors at the municipality uncovered the switch of names on the accounts and aggrieved workers reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Director Paulus Noa confirmed that the ACC had handled the matter and referred it back to the municipality. The exact status of the house was not known yesterday.

Ngairorue declined to comment and referred questions to public relations officer Lydia Amutenya or Amukugo.

Amukugo cited the confidentiality clause in each employee’s contract with the municipality as reason for not commenting on the matter.

Although Taapopi said his directive was given in good faith, some municipal workers said it was wrong and unfair.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the workers referred to another case reported in the media of a house that was auctioned over a N$3 000 debt which had accumulated to N$9 000 last year.

“If they helped one family, then why not help all the other people whose houses are being sold? What about the family that had to sleep in the graveyard?” a worker, who did not want to be named, asked.

When the matter came to light, the municipality suspended some of the workers from the debt recovery department over the issue, accusing them of leaking information to the media.

The letters of suspension, seen by The Namibian, state that the workers were suspended until investigations into their alleged misconduct had been finalised.

The municipality’s strategic executive for finance, Deon Gerber, refused to comment on the matter, but said the suspensions had to do with suspected leaking of information by the workers.

Amutenya said the municipality was aware of Ngairorue’s actions and that they were investigating them.

As for the suspensions, Amutenya said: “We, unfortunately, do not discuss internal and confidential matters involving our officials with the media.”

Source : The Namibian