Veil of secrecy over Kora court battle

07 October 2019 | Justice

A veil of secrecy has fallen over government's attempts to retrieve the N$23.5 million that was siphoned out of the country through the so-called Kora All-Africa Music Awards scandal.

The ongoing court saga, which has been dragging on since 2016, has now been marked “in-camera”.

The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) sued Mundial Telecom Sarl, Kora awards founder Ernest Adjovi and Tonata Shiimi in September 2016 for N$23.5 million (plus 20% interest), which was paid for the purchase of a platinum tourism package it never received.

Mundial Telecom owns the rights to host the Kora awards while Adjovi acted as the president of the company and Shiimi was the national director of the awards.

Last year the High Court ruled it does not have jurisdiction over Adjovi in his personal capacity and also that Mundial Telecom Sarl, which failed to adhere to a previous court order setting a time limit for the filing of documents in the matter, was barred from pleading its defence to the claim lodged against it.

The matter was postponed last Monday until 9 November when NTB's lawyer Kaijata Kangueehi's term as an acting judge ends.

The matter has now also been marked as “in-camera”.

This describes court cases or parts thereof where the public and media are not allowed access.

All documentation and information regarding the court case, which stretches back to 2016, have since been move from the online justice portal and is no longer available.

Namibian Sun has since last Monday been trying to find out why the matter is now being held in-camera. However, all efforts proved futile.

NTB CEO Digu //Noabeb said he does not know why the matter was being held in-camera and referred Namibian Sun to Kangueehi, who has since last Tuesday not responded to questions sent to him. He was also unreachable on his mobile phone.

Efforts to find out from Judge Herman Oosthuizen also proved futile and emails sent to his secretary and/or assistant were never answered.

Both environment minister Pohamba Shifeta and ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda were also unable to comment.

Namibian Sun reported in October last year that Adjovi accused the NTB of deliberately seeking the dismissal of the High Court case involving the Kora millions, due to sensitive information that can implicate government.

This revelation is contained in an affidavit filed by Adjovi.

In his affidavit lodged on 21 September 2018, Adjovi said his allegations against the government were not unsubstantiated.

“The NTB is opportunistically seeking the dismissal of the matter due to sensitive information that might be revealed to the public with regards to decisions and actions taken by the government revolving around the failed Kora awards,” he said.

He added this would come to light should the matter proceed to trial.

According to Adjovi, the NTB was doing everything in its powers to prevent the matter from going to trial.

He further denied any criminal charges against him or that he was party to any corrupt practices.

//Naobeb at time said it was a serious concern that Adjovi continued to rely on the same unsubstantiated but serious allegations against government.

“The deponent of the answering affidavit has provided no shred of evidence whatsoever to support allegations against the government and such allegations are vague and embarrassing and vexatious to the core.”

The matter stems from a written agreement that NTB concluded for a tourism promotion package on 4 December 2015 with Mundial Telecom Sarl, in respect of the 2016 All-Africa Kora Music Awards ceremony, which was scheduled to be held on 20 March 2016 in Namibia.

The ceremony was initially slated to take place on 13 December 2015, but was then postponed.

As per the contract that was signed on 4 December 2015, the NTB had to pay N$23.5 million on or before 10 December 2015.

However, the first payment of N$5 million was made on 22 December 2015 and the second (N$5 million) on 23 December 2015.

On 7 January 2016 another N$5 million was transferred and on 17 February 2016, N$8.5 million paid.

The money was paid into the bank account of Mundial Telecom in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

The last payment was done about a month before the awards were to take place in Namibia, while the promised promotional package guaranteed promotional television clips featuring Namibia would be on all participating African television stations by at least 20 January 2016.

In the event that the ceremony did not take place in Namibia, the NTB was to be refunded the amount paid, less reasonable expenses incurred, within 60 days.

[email protected]

ELLANIE SMIT

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