By: Kelvin Chiringa
A 73-year-old Swiss man and permanent resident of Namibia who got dragged before the High Court for 10 counts of fraud and theft has now been slapped with a N$100 000 fine, of which failure to pay the amount would see him locked up for 10 years eight months.
Hans Peter Rother, who attracted the sharp edge of the law for making unlawful money deposits not meant for him into his account, escaped a custodial sentence on account of his deteriorated health and advanced age yesterday in the Windhoek High Court.
The Judge reasoned that he had committed a white collar crime involving dishonesty and he never showed remorse as he kept on insisting that he was innocent.
Rother said the unlawful transfers of the money were mere technical errors on his part.
“Fraud is rampant in Namibia,” said the judge who went on to define him as an “elderly gentleman”.
The judge said his sentence was informed by the nature of the crime, the circumstances of the accused and interest of society.
The sentence, she said, should serve a purpose to punish and rehabilitate him, as well as deter him from committing same crime again.
Rother claimed that he coughed out N$5 million to pay his legal fees as the media publicity he received after the crimes took a toll on his health.
The court heard that he could no more attend public events and was suffering from depression, confusion, high blood pressure, ulcers and acute diabetes which means he has to take insulin injections five times a day.
The court was also told that incarcerating him would put him in a difficult situation where he would not get proper care and nutritional therapy.
His wife, who was smiling after he got the non-custodial sentence, had initially pleaded that they had been married for over 40 years, and that jail would affect them tremendously.
Rother was initially out on a N$75 000 bail, while his lawyer said he had lived a crime-free life for 57 years.
On count one to eight of fraud of N$1 103 490.32, Rother was handed down a sentence of four years in jail or a fine of N$40 000.
On the ninth count of theft of N$150 000, he was fined to N$15 000 or 18 months in prison.
On count 10 of fraud by obtaining 50% members’ interest in his CC, he was fined to N$5 000 or two years in jail and finally on count 11 of fraud by transferring N$1 093 471.43, he got fined N$40 000 or four years in jail.
He is a former employee of the ministry of nature conservation and was into private business, dealing in the estate agency sector and has been on permanent residence since 1976.