Ohorongo MD arrested for theft

By Marianne Nghidengwa at Otavi

THE Managing Director of Ohorongo Cement, Hans Wilhelm-Schutte (53) was arrested and appeared in the Otavi Magistrates Court last Thursday over the alleged theft of a water engine pump valued at N$12 100.

Preliminary police investigations suggest that Wilhelm-Schutte, allegedly stole the machine from 82-year-old Gert Hendrik van Reinsberg at his Olifantsspoor Farm in the Otavi District in 2010.

A police spokesperson told Confidente that the tussle over Van Reinsberg’s farm near Etosha also forms part of their ongoing investigations.  The Olifantsspoor Farm is believed to have a wealth of minerals and is viable for tourism activities, owing to its close proximity to the Etosha Pan.

It was not immediately clear why Wilhelm-Schutte would steal the water engine pump, as alleged, but he now faces a charge of theft for taking the machine from Van Reinsberg’s farm without permission in August 2010 after Van Reinsberg lodged a case of theft (CR02/09/2010). The police initially arrested two people in connection with the alleged theft but it later emerged that their arrest was wrongful, which saw the case closed. The suspects subsequently filed a malicious and wrongful prosecution lawsuit against Van Reinsberg in the Windhoek High Court for their ordeal. He, however won that case.

Van Reinsberg then wrote numerous letters to the Office of the President, Ministry of Lands and Resettlement amongst others about his ordeal as well as losing another farm called Vrede.  This led to Nampol Detective Chief Inspector Doc van Wyk from Windhoek tasked to investigate cases reported by the complainant.

In what appears to be a potentially costly mistake, Police sources said that Wilhelm-Schutte reportedly approached Van Reinsberg in November 2017 – 10 years after the pump went missing – to confess that he had indeed taken the water engine pump without permission and that he would buy Van Reinsberg a new similar machine for the inconvenience his alleged actions caused the old man.

Police sources added that Wilhelm-Schutte eventually bought a similar machine and gave it to the complainant in January 2018 as a gift. “The old man did not know what happened to his machine or who had stolen it for 10 years until Schutte approached him, confessing that it was indeed him who had taken it.”

It is understood that Wilhelm-Schutte only approached Van Reinsberg to make amends after the police re-opened investigations into the matter, using the pretext of a neighbourly visit. Van Reinsberg told Confidente he now believes that the “gift” from Wilhelm-Schutte was payment for the ordeal of the lawsuit and not necessarily for the machine he lost.

The old man also told Confidente that he was satisfied with investigations into his cases and applauded the Namibian police for their diligent work.

Appearing before Magistrate Mclean Handjaba, Wilhelm-Schutte was granted bail of N$5 000 after an amount of N$7 000 was suggested by Prosecutor Sara Kandume citing the value involved in the matter. The accused is represented by Willem Visser of Weder, Kauta and Hoveka, who felt the amount of N$7 000 was too high for his client.

Handjaba then reduced the bail amount, but warned Wilhelm-Schutte not to make any direct or indirect contact with the complainant or in any way attempt to interfere with state witness. The matter was then remanded to 31 January 2020 for further police investigations.

“In case of failure to appear in court, a warrant of arrest may be issued against you and your bail will be provisionally cancelled and the bail money will be provisionally forfeited to the State,” Wilhelm-Schutte was told.