Accusations pile up amidst #ShutItAllDown fraud scandal

15 October 2021 | Local News

ESTER KAMATI



WINDHOEK

A Namibian online teen magazine on Wednesday came out with allegations that Lebbeus Hashikutuva, who they partnered with as a creative director, defrauded them of N$40 000. These allegations surfaced amidst another fraud scandal which alleged that Hashikutuva had pocketed money meant for the #ShutItAllDown movement.

The local youth magazine Afterbreak, led by co-founders Rejoice Amutenya and Mehafo Amunyela, had been approached by a company towards the end of last year to provide youthful content for their publication.

This would be Afterbreak’s first profitable project since inception. Hashikutuva allegedly robbed the magazine of these profits after the team trusted his industry expertise to engage in the project and act on behalf of the magazine.

According to a statement issued on social media, Amutenya gave Hashikutuva the right to enter into three contractual agreements with a company, including providing a bank confirmation letter where funds would be deposited.

In April, the company informed the magazine founders that payments for the first two contracts had been made into Hashikutuva’s account.

In June, another payment had allegedly been made into the same account.

When asked about the funds, Hashikutuva claimed he lost his phone and identity documents and said he had no access to the account. He later also said money was being deducted from the account by a bursar who had been paying his tuition in 2017, before he dropped out of university.

Not a cent

“For over six months, Lebbeus has consistently made excuses and has not given us a single cent from N$40 000 paid to him on behalf of the Afterbreak Magazine.”

Amutenya and Amunyela said they have opened a criminal case against him and will be strengthening their organisational structure, especially where finances are involved.

“We hope justice will be served and we are eager to put this behind us,” they said.

Meanwhile, according to another statement released by the #ShutItAlldown movement, an amount of US$5 0000 had been paid to the movement and was received by Hashikutuva.

After social media was set abuzz on Monday evening with people demanding answers regarding the missing funds, “Hasikutuva initiated correspondence with the movement via email”.

“In the correspondence, he has attached proof of payment, with details on the transfer of funds to the value of US$5 000.”

The movement is allegedly still investigating the source of the funds to ensure that it does not come from illicit activities.

“We are stubbornly insistent on ensuring that the funding which facilitates our work is legitimate. Therefore, #ShutItAllDown has decided to proceed with action to ascertain the sourcing of the funds which have been paid to the movement are indeed the original funding and not money that was attained in dubious ways.”

We want the account

Requests for access to a bank account which was allegedly opened under #ShutItAllDown to receive such funds were ignored, however, the funds were received on Tuesday from Hashikutuva.

The statement demanded that the account be handed over.

“This request is crucial as it would allow us to scrutinise the transaction history,” read the statement, adding that this would allow them to track whether he was truly unaware of the funds being received in the account.

“Hashikutuva’s behaviour and blatant bending of the truth in the last few months has led us to have minimal trust in him, and once we can be sure that the money we have received is legitimate, we will gladly proceed with our programming”.

The movement has also committed to ensuring that the “regrettable development does not contaminate the morale and/or the perception of youth activism.”

Case withdrawn

City Police spokesperson Celie Kapolo confirmed that Hashikutuva was taken in for questioning yesterday morning regarding a theft case opened last month. “I can confirm that the complainant and the suspect and their lawyers have reached an agreement,” she said, adding that Hashikutuva has agreed to pay a fee and the case has since been withdrawn.

The Afterbreak co-founders could not be reached for further comment.

[email protected]

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