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Agriculture ministry employee slapped with 17-year prison sentence for fraud

by Kelvin Chiringa

An agriculture water and forestry employee, Hilka Megameno Nepembe, was slapped with a 17-year prison sentence in the Oshakati High Court for defrauding unsuspecting people of their money pretending that she would install taps/meters at their homes. 

This is inspite of the fact that Nepembe (43) who is a single mother of three, was not authorised to collect money or install water connections and she pleaded not guilty to 17 charges of fraud. 

However, Nepembe’s lawyer appealed against the sentence citing that it was shocking given that she apologised to her victims, refunded them and “assisted in speeding up the process of connecting water as the ministry’s process was taking unnecessarily long”. 

It is the state’s case that Nepembe on 17 different dates from November 2009 to May 2011 at different places defrauded different complainants to pay over amounts of money ranging between N$1 200, N$1 500, N$2 400 and N$3 600 by deceiving them that water taps/meters will be installed at their homes while she knew at all times that she was not authorized to collect money or install water connections. 

The Court found that the appellant had the same modus operandi in committing the crimes. 

 In her plea explanation she informed the court that the money was either refunded or water connections were eventually done and water meters were installed.

Her sentence after having been found to be inappropriate was set aside and substituted before being reduced to 5-year’s imprisonment of which 3 years were suspended for 5 years on condition that the appellant is not convicted for fraud or theft committed during the period of suspension. 

Meanwhile, the sentence is ante-dated to 6 September 2017.