Suspended Nust officials back at work

18 October 2021 | Education

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

The Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) has reinstated three senior officials who were sent home last month after being implicated in a N$2.5-million-dollar student housing scandal.

Director of student services Donovan Zealand, director of facilities Oliver Quarmby and Lance Hauaanga were informed last week that – despite their reinstatement – investigations were continuing. They were expected back at work today.

The infamous accommodation scandal erupted when 52 hostel students in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) department, funded by the Namibia Training Authority, were evicted after the university failed to settle a N$2.5 million accommodation bill at the Hilton Garden Inn building owned by United Africa Group (UAG).

NTA sources informed Namibian Sun that the training authority in May refused to settle the accommodation bill unless Nust provided evidence of the procedures followed when it selected the accommodation provider.

Nust’s legal team - Weder, Kauta and Hoveka - informed the three officials that once the investigation was concluded, they would be informed about the status of their employment with the institution.

Zealand had to provide the institution with the PIN of the SIM card of his company-issued cellphone.

Hauaanga was asked to return a company laptop. He has reportedly already returned one of the two laptops he had.

On Wednesday, Nust’s legal team wrote to Hauaanga’s lawyers, Sisa Namandje & Co, informing them that their client “continues to pose a major threat to the investigation and has been interfering with the investigation from the onset and continues to do so.

“A forensic inspection of the Dell laptop handed in has already indicated that your client deleted his emails for the period 18 September 2020 to 24 January 2021, which is a relevant period for the ongoing investigation,” Nust said .

Non-event

Meanwhile, a senior staff member told Namibian Sun that the three officials were yet to be informed of the charges they face.

According to her, recalling them made sense since the suspension was a non-starter right from the start.

“Money was never released to pay the accommodation so there was no need to suspend anybody. I think it was just embarrassing the institution because there was no money to pay for the accommodation. It was just really a no-story,” she said.

It is alleged that the Nust leadership only learned of the deal when the service provider demanded payment.

Zealand, Hauuanga and Quarmby are accused of having played a role in the housing saga that could see the university being dragged to court.

The head of TVET, Simon Mubiana, who was also suspended over the hostel scandal, remains on suspension.

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