N$2m Multichoice theft trial begins

The charges include 85 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, one count of forgery and uttering, one count of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and one count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

15 June 2021 | Justice

Marc Springer







WINDHOEK

A trial in which a married couple and their accomplice are accused of defrauding Multichoice Namibia (MCN) of N$2 million commenced in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

The three accused - Manga Nawa-Mukena (38), Joseph Mukena (44) and Celestino Gabriel Antonio (38) - who are facing 174 charges, all pleaded not guilty.

The charges include 85 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, one count of forgery and uttering, one count of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and one count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

The state is alleging that Nawa-Mukena, while employed as marketing manager of MCN between 1 April 2013 and 17 March 2017, defrauded her former employer by forging invoices for advertisements allegedly printed in the Oshiwambo newspaper Kundana, published by state-owned New Era Publication Corporation, while knowing that the newspaper did not provide advertising to MCN.

The prosecution is further alleging that she acted in common purpose with her two co-accused when she provided her own bank account number, claiming it was that of Kundana, and enticed MCN to pay N$2.08 million into her account for supposed advertising services.

Not guilty

Through her lawyer, advocate Slysken Makando, Nawa-Mukena denied all charges, stressing that the payment process at her former employer was such that it would have been impossible for her to commit the fraud as alleged.

She said the agreement with Kundana, represented by Antonio, for the provision of advertising services was entered into with the express knowledge and consent of MCN general manager Roger Gertze and finance manager Annarien Vorster.

She added that in terms of the verification process in place, service delivery could only commence once both Gertze and Vorster had approved a supplier and that any payments could only be made if the two of them had signed off on them.

Due to these checks and balances, both Gertze and Vorster would have known that the bank account number on the invoices submitted by Antonio was her bank account, she said. However, she emphasised, the appearance of her bank account on the invoices was "not pursuant to some fraudulent intent" but rather as a result of her providing her bank account number to Antonio "to assist him".

Nawa-Mukena insisted that she was never the author of any of the invoices submitted to MCN, pointing out that Antonio occasionally made use of her laptop to "edit documents" and that as a result she appeared as the last modifier of some of the invoices submitted.

Not ‘irregular or suspicious’

Mukena also denied all charges, stating that he had "no knowledge of any fraudulent or unlawful activity" allegedly committed by his two co-accused.

In response to the allegation that he withdrew money from the account into which MCN allegedly made payments, he pointed out that he is married to Nawa-Mukena and that it "cannot be considered irregular or suspicious that monies would pass between the two of us".

Antonio’s lawyer Mbanga Siyomuinji informed judge Herman January that his client was denying all charges, but would elect to remain silent at this stage.

Tangeni Itula is prosecuting. The trial continues today.

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