The Arrest and the N$6m exit package

Niël Terblanché

A female member of the Namibian Petroleum Corporation’s Board of Directors has been arrested on charges relating to the possession of illicit drugs shortly after a meeting of the board at the offices of the state-owned energy corporation in Windhoek on Monday.

The arrest of the senior board member was confirmed by the commander of the Namibian Police’s Public Relations Division, Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi.

According to the incident report, arresting officers reacted to intelligence received from an informant when they swooped in on the female board member.

During a search of the lady’s official vehicle, the officers discovered 935 grams of marijuana, 10 grams of cocaine as well as 60 pieces of crack cocaine, also known as rocks, hidden inside the vehicle.

The arrest follows a few days after it was revealed that there is currently a power struggle between the Chairperson of the Namcor Board, Jennifer Comalie and Immanuel Mulunga, the Managing Director of the state-owned entity.

Speculation is rife that the agenda of Monday’s board meeting had the suspension of Mulunga from his position as Managing Director and that the arrest of the senior female board member was timed to interfere with the process of firing him.

It is said that if Mulunga was to resist the suspension, he would have been fired. The sacking would allegedly have been accompanied by a separation package of N$6 million.

It is further alleged that prior to her arrest, the board member was approached by another person who offered to move her official vehicle to a safer parking spot where it was less likely to be broken into.

None of the allegations could be confirmed by either Tim Ekandjo, the Deputy Chairperson of the Namcor Board or Mulunga himself.

Another allegation is that the package containing the illicit drugs found by the arresting officers while they conducted a search of the board member’s vehicle had the suspect’s name written on it in big letters.

Consequently, it is speculated that the package was placed in the vehicle by someone other than the suspect.

Deputy Commissioner Shikwambi was unable to either confirm or deny the speculation about the timing of the arrest or if the package had the name of the suspect written on it.

Monday’s drama was preceded by reports that Mulunga was in contravention of several decisions taken by the Namcor Board.

At the end of last week, Comalie confirmed that an investigation was launched into Mulunga’s role in acquiring shareholding for Namcor in three oil production blocks off the coast of Angola as a partner in the Sungara Energies consortium.

The other shareholders in the consortium Sequa Petroleum and the Petrolog Group have reportedly not been approved as partners in the deal by the Namcor Board.

The partners in Sungara Energies, however, agreed to pay a N$400 million deposit on an N$8 billion deal to the Angolan national energy company Sonagol for working shares in three oil blocks.

It was further reported that Mulunga did not have the board’s approval to go ahead with further payments toward the deposit agreed upon between Sonagol and Sungara Energies after already putting up N$170 million. The additional payment of N$100 million was allegedly deferred by the board after it came to light that one of the foreign partners in the new consortium did not pay its share towards the deposit of N$400 million.

The role of Namcor in the Sungara Energies deal with Sonanagol has been discussed by the board on several occasions and it has been reported that a second payment towards the deposit has not been approved.

During 2022, the Namcor board also spoiled plans of the energy corporation to buy and store fuel in bulk at Walvis Bay because the members deemed the deal as suspicious.

The Namibian government, in support of the Namcor Board, subsequently blocked the proposal.

The arrest of the senior board member on Monday followed shortly after a meeting of the Namcor Board at the corporation’s head office in Windhoek. The board meeting was followed by a meeting at the Ministry of Mines and Energy later on Monday afternoon.

Paolo Coelho, the spokesperson of Namcor, stated that both meetings went ahead as scheduled. He was, however, unable to confirm or deny if the meeting at the energy ministry went ahead in the absence of the senior female board member.

According to Deputy Commissioner Shikwambi, the suspect’s identity could not be made public as she has not made an appearance before a court of law.

By late Monday afternoon, no formal charges have been laid against the suspect Shikwambi indicated that the suspect is scheduled to make an appearance before a magistrate in Windhoek on Tuesday.

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