Traffic camera deal: PG to decide

Prosecution is now a possibility in a probe regarding the N$12 million installation of traffic cameras that have not worked to date.

16 September 2021 | Local News

JANA-MARI SMITH







WINDHOEK

Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga says the police will submit their findings of an investigation into a multimillion-dollar traffic management system tender to the Prosecutor-General for a decision whether to prosecute anyone involved.

Sixteen months after the police opened a fraud investigation into the N$12 million traffic management system tender that involved the installation of 12 highway cameras, the probe is still underway.

In May 2020, police confirmed they are “investigating a charge of fraud” into the tender that was awarded by the Namibian police to CSS Tactical Security Namibia in 2015.

The project cost more than N$12 million.

This week, police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga confirmed in a written statement that the “matter is still under investigation”.

He said “progress to that effect will be shared once the case docket is submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor-General for decision”.

The police declined to answer why the investigation has dragged on for more than a year, and whether any members of CSS, including its director, businessman Amos Shiyuka, have been called in for questioning.

No contact

Lawyer Francois Erasmus however said no one had yet been interviewed and they remain in the dark as to the investigation’s progress.

He has been fielding media questions on behalf of Shiyuka and CSS since last August.

Erasmus said “nothing has transpired” since January, when he wrote “unfortunately, we have heard nothing from any source regarding the finalisation, or not, of the investigation”.

Erasmus last year made it clear that CSS was not guilty of any wrongdoing, and that the company was eager to clear its name.

In early December, seven months after the case docket was opened, Erasmus wrote that they had not “heard anything further from the police despite our enquiries and insistence that the investigation be concluded. Our client wants to exonerate its good name and reputation”.

Complex

In February, head of the police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), Commissioner Moritz !Naruseb, provided a more elaborate response on the progress of the probe.

He said the investigation was “very sensitive and at an advance stage”, but noted that the pandemic had thrown in numerous unavoidable hurdles.

He stressed that “despite all odds, we are determined to bring the investigation to a conclusion in a reasonable time”.

Ten witnesses had been interviewed by February and affidavits obtained, while other witnesses failed to show up to interviews, he said.

!Naruseb said “CSS in this instance is regarded as a ‘person of interest’ and other possible individuals. As such, they will be the last to be interviewed after all the evidence was collected”.

He concluded that “due to the seriousness and the magnitude of the matter”, and depending on the investigation’s final conclusions, the Office of the Prosecutor-General will decide on the way forward.

White elephants

Meanwhile, the 12 high-tech yellow speed cameras that were installed by CSS on the B1 and B2 highways, as part of the multimillion-dollar Traffic Contravention Management System almost six years ago, remain inactive.

Police chief of traffic, deputy commissioner Amelia Gawanas, this week said she could not provide an update on the cameras and what the police plan to do with them, as the matter is now in the CID’s hands.

It has been reported that the majority of cameras have been vandalised, their software has lapsed and that they are not in working condition.

Last year, Namibia Media Holdings reported, based on an extensive response by CSS’s legal team, that the company won the tender to supply, install and commission the traffic management system and related services in April 2014. The original contract was signed in January 2015 for N$3.7 million.

“All deliverables in terms of this original contract were met by CSS” during 2015.

At the end of 2015, the police ordered additional equipment and services, including the 12 stationary yellow speed cameras, CSS’s legal team said.

Moreover, “infrastructure shortcomings were identified at some traffic locations” and the police requested quotations for networking and structural cabling in several regions.

As a result, the total price tripled to N$12.3 million.

The legal team in August emphasised that its client hopes the investigation will be concluded as early as reasonably possible and that they are “confident that upon a thorough consideration of all relevant material, it will be exonerated from any alleged wrongdoing”.

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