Israeli diamantaire threatens to sue newspaper

Nuska Technologies' Doron Cohen's lawyers gave this publication until 21 April to retract a story about a Namdia diamond valuation deal gone sour.

29 April 2021 | Local News



An Israeli-owned diamond firm currently valuating Namdia diamonds has threatened to sue this publication over an article published earlier this month.

On 14 April, Namibian Sun reported that a fallout between C-Sixty Investments and its technical agent, Nuska Technologies, last year led to the company nearly being stripped of its lucrative multimillion-dollar contract by government, before the same agent bought out the local partners to secure the contract for himself.

C-Sixty, which belonged to businessmen John Walenga and Tironnen Kauluma at the time, had Nuska as its technical partner for a job to evaluate diamonds for state-owned Namdia.

Nuska, run by Israeli national Doron Cohen, has since been accused of going behind C-Sixty’s back by approaching mines minister Tom Alweendo with a proposal to take over the diamond valuation contract.

Following the publication of the article titled ‘Israeli dribbles C-Sixty in diamond deal’, Nuska’s lawyers Kangueehi & Kavendjii Incorporated threatened to sue Namibian Sun over the report.

According to the lawyers, Cohen never went behind C-Sixty’s back to take over the contract. They, however, did not deny that he submitted a proposal to the ministry.

Retract – or else

The lawyers further stated in their demand letter - dated 20 April 2021 - that the article implies that Cohen is greedy, corrupt and inappropriately landed the valuation contract.

They also feel the article created the impression that Cohen conspired with certain people in the mines ministry to take over the valuation contract.

“It is our firm and unequivocal instructions to - on an urgent basis - demand that you publish an unconditional apology and retraction before close of business on 21 April 2021, failing which we shall bring legal action against the Namibian Sun newspaper without further notice,” the letter further read.

Namibian Sun editor Toivo Ndjebela responded to the demand letter saying “we will not retract our story or apologise to him”.

“If Mr Cohen has alternative facts to what we have published - the very facts we sought from him for three months - we guarantee him his right of reply in our newspaper,” Ndjebela said.

Deal suspended

The controversial diamond valuation arrangement - to which former mines minister Obeth Kandjoze committed government - will no longer be needed when it runs out in September, Namibian Sun has learnt.

Alweendo earlier this month made it clear that his ministry will not be needing such services any more, and this is said to be a tactic to reduce the ministry’s expenditure.

According to the details of the current deal, the ministry is responsible to pay C-Sixty’s valuation costs, the company which was handpicked in 2016 to conduct the services for five years.

It is still not clear why Kandjoze sanctioned the ministry to foot the bill instead of Namdia. He did not reply to questions sent to him.

Kandjoze’s successor was seemingly not happy with the arrangement when he took over the ministry in 2018.

Alweendo last year notified C-Sixty that the contract would be discontinued.

He told Namibian Sun two weeks ago that “the ministry will not need such services”.

His Cabinet colleague, public enterprise minister Leon Jooste, said Namdia will have to put the contract out on tender if they wish to continue using external valuators.

“At this stage, Namdia feels that they won’t need this any further,” Jooste said.

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