In a packed courtroom, the National Petroleum of Namibia (Namcor) board chairperson Jennifer Comalie made her first court appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court, portraying a state of anxiety and limping as she walked in.
Comalie appeared before Magistrate Jozanne Klazen after a long wait of confusion and details about a docket that could not be finalised quickly.
Amongst those who were in the wait was mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo who showed up at the court as well as Namcor staff members, councillors from the City of Windhoek and family members of Comalie.
Comalie appeared in court on three counts of dealing with drugs and was arrested on Monday by the Namibian police when drugs valued at N$57 000 were found in her car.
During the court proceedings, public prosecutor, Seredine Jacobs requested the matter to be postponed to August as investigations are still not complete.
“There are still a lot of investigations that are pending, can the matter be remanded until 1 August 2023 for further investigations and some of the exhibits will be sent for forensic analysis to the lab,” she said.
Jacobs on behalf of the state also did not object to bail.
This led to the court granting Comalie bail of N$7 000 the case was adjourned to 31 July 2023 for further investigations as Klazen had stated she would not be available in August.
Lawyer Trevor Brockerhoff is representing Comalie in the matter.
With the delay of the docket as the court appearance took place after the court had closed for business, prosecutor general Martha Imalwa was guarded and could not provide any information when quizzed about the docket of the Namcor board member set to appear in court today.
Imalwa told Eagle FM that her office is not controlled nor does it report to the media.
“When I’m carrying out my constitutional mandates, I’m not reporting to the media, I’m working with my prosecutors and I don’t think it’s proper for the media to interfere with internal matters,” she said.
Meanwhile, Finance and Public Enterprises Minister Iipumbu Shiimi requested the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, Joseph Shikongo to consider conducting a security threat assessment and provide security support to Comalie.
In a letter signed on Tuesday, Iipumbu says that Comalie requested an urgent meeting with Alweendo over concerns over her and her daughter’s safety.
During the meeting, she said: “some people are not happy with what she is doing at Namcor and that these people will take unspecified actions against her.”
Local media cited a police representative as saying they had searched the car in an “intelligence-driven operation”. The search found 935 grams of cannabis, 60 rocks of crack cocaine and 10 grams of cocaine.
On Monday, the board was set to discuss possible action against managing director Immanuel Mulunga.
According to reports Comalie’s arrest took place shortly before Namcor’s planned board meeting.
However, Comalie was quoted saying she recalls giving her keys to a Namcor employee last Friday, after the employee claimed she parked in the wrong spot, and that her car needed to be moved.
Mulunga is accused of making an unauthorised N$100 million payment to an Angolan partner.
The transaction under investigation relates to oil-producing blocks in Angola, involving Namcor and Angola’s state-owned oil company, Sonangol.
The Namcor chair is said to have clashed with the company managing director Immanuel Mulunga.
The Namibian reported disagreements around a deal Namcor is pursuing in Angola, in addition to the acquisition of petroleum products domestically.
The newspaper reported that Mulunga and Namcor’s acting executive for supply and logistics Cedric Willemse were facing imminent suspension. Willemse has worked off and on as a Namcor consultant.
In April 2022, Namcor was announced as part of a consortium buying into Angola’s Block 15/06 with 10% interest, 40% in block 23 and 35% interest for block 27.
The Sungara Energies consortium agreed to the N$400 million deal with Sonangol, which would see it gain equity production of around 10,000 barrels per day.
The Namibian also reported that Namcor had agreed to pay U$10 million (N$107 million) as its share of the deposit but that there had been a shortfall.
Mulunga called for board support in making the deal but they rejected it.
The Namcor MD went ahead with the deal despite this, the newspaper reported.
Mulunga said the company’s partners had failed to meet their share of the deposit and that this jeopardised the deal.
Comalie said last week that there was an investigation underway into the Angola deal.
The Namcor chair has also come under fire for her parts in some deals.
New Era reported that Comalie had spoken in defence of a friend who owns part of Validus Energy. Namcor is alleged to have taken products from Validus which is affiliated with Vitol in November 2022.
Comalie seems to have asked Mulunga to discipline Willemse, who was involved in the plan to tap the fuel stored at Walvis Bay.
“He may have thought this was a loan, but it is really theft”, Comalie told Mulunga, according to New Era.