As the trial of the Avid 7 in line with the N$30 million stolen from the Social Security Commission reached its climax yesterday in the Windhoek High Court, Nico Josea broke down and wept before apologising to everyone for his transgressions.
Josea stands convicted on two counts including theft by cohesion after the court found out he together with the now late Lazarus Kandara worked in cahoots to plunder N$30 million in tax payers’ money which had initially been meant for investment via Avid.
Judge Christie Liebenberg had to call for a 15-minute break after Josea, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the now defunct Namangol Asset Management Company, was overcome with emotions as he narrated how the case had torn into his family.
“I’m sorry for what happened. Be merciful to me,” said a remorse Josea.
He, through his translator, narrated that his son, a qualified pilot, had also paid a price for his transgressions as each time he applied for a job, the stigma associated with his surname saw doors being shut on him.
Pleading for the court’s leniency, Josea highlighted that he was suffering from High Blood Pressure and took pills everyday and had lost his parents during the course of his trial.
His lawyer also submitted that the fact that he was a first time offender counted heavily in his favour and had spent his life “free from any commission of an offense”.
“There is hope in him living a later part of his life without having to be implicated in any crime. His family has been broken down. Between him and poverty he has ten goats. If the court is to remove him from society then these circumstances should count,” said his lawyer.
Meanwhile former Swapo National Assembly member, Ralph Blaauw, and his wife, Sharon Blaauw, a lawyer, had their sentences pleaded for by their lawyer in the light that they had been used by Kandara.
“Despite the continued belief that they benefitted, we have evidence that it’s a myth. They were blind to what was to come on account of the SSC money. There were no schemes or plotting, it was not premeditated,” their lawyer submitted.
It also came to light that Mrs. Blaauw failed to land a job with International Air Transport Association after a background check saw the Avid case surfacing and resultantly was dropped as a potential employee.
A cousin of Kandara, she tearfully regretted having given in to his pressure.
“I suffered depression, insomnia and chronic stomach pains,” she said adding that she had been affected financially and spiritually while her two children still needed a mother.
Her husband, who is currently into farming and consultancy, saw his illustrious political career crumbling down and had to resign with immediate effect from his position as Secretary General of the National Youth Council.
“He became an international embarrassment,” his lawyer submitted.
By the virtue of them being a married couple, their lawyer said, “an injury to one is an injury to all” suggesting that a punishment to either one of them impacted them both.
The lawyer also criticized the media for not having covered their case in a balanced manner and at that point, Judge Liebenberg reminded him that the court was not there to adhere to public expectations.
He pushed for Mrs. Blaauw to be slapped with a fine of N$12 000 and that the court grants her husband either imprisonment with a fine of N$20 000 or sentence him to a wholly suspended sentence.
Both were found guilty of reckless conduct of business.
Lawyer representing the state, Ed Marondedze, however argued that the personal circumstances of the convicted were a non-issue as there was no way they could have expected a soft landing in a case of such magnitude.
“They were natural consequences of committing an offense and this should not make the court shy from imposing an appropriate sentence,” he said.
In light of Paulus Kapia, Inez Gases and Ralph Blaauw, Marondedze said they kept Kandara shielded from SSC, whose management had declined to do business with him.
“They acted to the benefit of their pockets. They were in private business. Money was brought to Josea by accused 1 (Kapia), 2 (Gases) and 5 (Blaauw). It was manna from haven. They are the snake’s head which must be hit hard. They denied that there were misrepresentations done to SSC. That should be taken heavily against them. I submit that this court should not treat them with kid gloves,” he said.
He submitted that they were no ordinary citizens but national leaders whom society had high expectations on and for them to be used by Kandara shows that they abdicated their roles.