Businessman nabbed for copper wire theft

A prominent scrap metal dealer has appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on charges of being in possession of stolen property belonging to Telecom Namibia.

28 February 2018 | Crime

A man who was suspected to have been involved in the sale of scrap copper belonging to Telecom Namibia, and who escaped the wrath of justice ten years ago after he was acquitted of fraud and theft charges, was recently arrested in connection with the same crime.

Johan Ettienne Weakley, a prominent Windhoek scrap metal dealer, appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court yesterday on charges of possession of suspected stolen property. According to a state source who spoke to Namibian Sun, Weakley was apprehended on 13 February at his scrap metal business premises in the Southern Industrial Area when police, after a tip-off, searched and retrieved 364kg of copper wire valued at N$31 660.

“There is a reasonable suspicion that it is stolen property,” prosecutor Rowan van Wyk said to Namibian Sun upon enquiry.

Magistrate Vanessa Stanley, after the state had no objection, granted N$10 000 bail to Weakley on the condition that he does not directly or indirectly interfere with the police investigations.

He was not asked to plead.

This is the second time Weakley is implicated in the theft of Telecom Namibia's copper wires. In June 2014, after a trial that started in January 2008, he was found not guilty on 19 counts of fraud and theft involving Telecom's copper wires.

This was only when Heinz Dresselhaus, in his capacity as the representative of the company, Dresselhaus Scrap CC, pleaded guilty in May 2014 and was convicted of 19 counts of fraud and theft. Thereafter Weakley and his co-accused, James William Camm, a manager with Telecom at the time, were found not guilty on all charges

Dresselhaus Scrap CC was in June 2014 fined N$200 000. The company was, at the time of the incident, one of the leading scrap metal dealers in Namibia, and it had longstanding dealings with Telecom Namibia, dating back to before 1997.

One important area of such dealings was in respect of Dresselhaus Scrap CC being awarded tenders to purchase Telecom Namibia's copper. Another important area in which the two entities worked cooperatively concerned finding ways and means of combating theft of Telecom Namibia's copper telephone cables which had become quotidian.

At that time, Telecom Namibia was in the process of replacing its copper telephone lines with optic fibre cabling in a wireless phone system.

One of the sticky problems encountered by Telecom Namibia, in trying to stop the theft of its copper cables through the criminal justice system, was proving that the cabling in question belonged to it. The solution identified by Telecom Namibia was to appoint one scrap metal dealer as the only dealer having exclusive rights to deal in Telecom Namibia's scrap copper wire.

Dresselhaus Scrap CC was given exclusive dealership in “all copper belonging to Telecom Namibia”.

The case against Weakley was postponed to 18 June for further investigations. Attorney Schalk Oosthuisen appeared on his behalf.


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