Salini SpA Detains Journalists

A SENIOR manager of Salini SpA ordered the brief detention of Keetmanshoop-based journalists and a cameraman who had gone to the company’s offices to cover a raid on the premises by custom and excise and immigration officers yesterday.

The company was contracted to build the Neckartal Dam near Keetmanshoop.

The company’s finance manager Luigi Pomer instructed a security guard to prevent this reporter (The Namibian), Ellen Nanuses and Eslon Jaepa (NBC) and Hoandi !Gaeb (New Era) from leaving the premises and the guard locked up the premises.

“You are going nowhere until the police arrive,” said Pomer, who told the journalists that they had no right to just come and take snapshots of the premises.

He demanded that the journalists hand over their cameras in exchange for their freedom.

“You can only leave if you give us the material you have photographed. You are not good. One of the workers is crying because you took photos of her,” said Pomer, demanding that the media representatives tell him who invited them to the company’s office.

“You have no right to come and take photos here”.

The journalists explained to the manager that they had responded to a tip-off from a member of the public and refused to surrender their equipment.

Luigi only released them following discussions with the bosses of the Southern Security company which Salini SpA had contracted to guard their buildings and property.

The immigration acting control officer, Finna Elago, yesterday said the raid on the company was in response to her office being inundated with complaints that non-Namibian citizens were employed by the company with no valid work permits.

“We are informed that positions that could be occupied by locals are being occupied by non-Namibians,” said Elago. She said two Italians were yesterday taken in for questioning by the immigration officials after they could not produce their travel documents.

The Namibian was also informed that during the raids at the Neckartal construction site customs and excise officials seized cigarettes that were believed to have been smuggled into the country. However, this could not be verified by the customs and excise controller, Patrick Tongo.

“Yes, our officers together with the immigration officers went on an operation early this morning. But, I have not been briefed yet as the officers are still out in the field,” said Tongo. Last year government awarded the controversial multi-billion dollar tender to construct the Neckartal dam to Salini SpA.

Source : The Namibian