Kunene farmers lose over N$700 000 under ‘bogus’ cooperative
Farmers in the Kunene Region have lost over N$700 000 in a bogus Kufagre cooperative which was set up to help them acquire livestock.
The cooperative founder allegedly asked the farmers to contribute a small amount of N$10 000 for 10 cattle and N$2 200 for 50 goats to kick start their farming businesses, and then only pay back the difference of the actual price after five years.
One of its members, Josef Simon told The Villager that over 100 farmers in Kunene region paid the said amount but never received the livestock.
“We contributed the said funds but nothing happened. We then had several meetings and requested for a bank statement of which only a certain Phillipus Howoseb (Kufagre cooperative founder) had the signing rights to.”
“The statement showed that there was no money in the bank and that it had been utilised. We then took the matter up with the ministry of agriculture but were told the Kufagre cooperative was initially registered but was not re-registered after the time lapsed, therefore, was not on the ministry’s system,” Simon said.
Another member, Rosa Muhida said that she has given up hope but wants a proper investigation to be carried out and for the monies to be refunded.
“I have lost too much money. I was looking forward to having my own kraal at a resettlement farm. I think that Howoseb intentionally lied to us just to eat up our money. It is not only us in Kamanjab but the whole of Kunene region.”
“We did what he asked and now he does not even answer our phone calls. He defrauded us through this unreal cooperative. If he does not return our money we will find a way to open a case against him,” she said.
Another member of the cooperative Wesley Narib said that the ministry also failed to investigate the issue.
“We have written several letters to the ministry to act. They sent someone to inform us that the Kufagre cooperative is no longer registered with the ministry and that our monies have gone to Howoseb’s pocket,” he said.
When The Villager contacted him for comment, Howoseb admitted that he used the money to travel through the region to register more farmers and has plans to pay back the monies through a new cooperative that will be formed this year.
“Yes, I am aware of the Kufagre cooperative money that was in my account that I used. When the ministry approached me they asked me to pay back the money. I then asked them to be patient with me because they said that we can start a new cooperative and pay it back through the new cooperative.”
“I am now currently selling my house and will be able to pay back the money soon this year. I admit that I did use the money,” he said.
He plans on setting up a Mopani Cooperative which is yet to be approved by the agriculture ministry.