Karasburg trio released on bail

Martin Endjala

The Karasburg Magistrate Court released three members of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) on bail, set at N$1000 each, on Saturday. The trio had been arrested on 2 October 2023 by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on charges of alleged corruption.

Magistrate Samingo Kasaona set bail for Karasburg Town Council Mayor Maria Veldskoen, town council management member Fransiskus Skeyer, and Acting Chief Executive Officer Hansina Isaacks. The bail conditions stipulate that they must not interfere with witnesses or ongoing investigations.

Although the trio applied for bail on 3 October 2023, it was denied, and the case was postponed to 6 October 2023. A subsequent delay occurred when the hearing was pushed to the following day due to the prosecutor’s illness.

The accused face charges of violating the Local Authorities governing law, abusing their office positions, and conspiring to commit a crime. Additional charges involve altering the council’s banking signatory rights and the irregular appointment of the Acting CEO.

Last month, Urban and Rural Development Minister Erastus Uutoni instructed the council, via a letter, to reverse their decisions. He sought to ensure that the designated individuals managed the day-to-day administrative tasks of the council without interference from the accused trio.

Uutoni warned of repercussions if his directives were ignored. The trio’s non-compliance led Uutoni to involve the anti-graft body.

However, the LPM party criticized the ACC’s and Ministry’s involvement, interpreting their actions as a targeted attack against the party. The party vowed to challenge the issue legally, asserting their commitment to ensuring justice is upheld.

In a related development, Uutoni faces allegations of bias and inefficacy, especially when required to take similar actions. Such criticism stems from an incident in 2021 when N$10 million was allegedly withdrawn from the council accounts by the council’s Financial Officer, who later resigned.

The then-CEO, Nico Titus, purportedly linked to the incident, did not face ACC scrutiny. When the ACC was informed, they allegedly deemed it a purely administrative issue and chose not to intervene.

LPM spokesperson Lifalaza Simaata perceives the arrest of its members as an agenda that Uutoni is advancing through the ACC.

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