Omusati N$20 million pit latrine case drags on

By Maria Kandjungu

PROSECUTION of two disgraced northern businessmen, property mogul Erastus Nikodemus and Samson Shandjuuka charged over four years ago with fraud for their involvement in the N$20 million Omusati pit latrine toilets, is nowhere near completion with the trial date yet to be set.

Nikodemus who is a prominent property developer in the North and owner of Nikodemus Architectural designs, the company that was appointed by the Omusati regional council as the principal agent for the region’s rural sanitation programme, was in 2017 arrested for fraud after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) found that he and his company were not registered as architects or quantity surveyors at time of getting the tender.

He allegedly misrepresented himself and his company to the regional council using forged documents resulting in him being contracted to plan, design, administer, evaluate and supervise the contract of the infamous Omusati pit latrine tender.

The ACC started the probe into the construction of 60 pit latrine toilets constructed at a cost of N$20 million in 2010 as the shocking amount meant that some of the pit latrines cost up to N$750 000 each.

The Office of the Prosecutor General on two occasions sent back the docket of the probe to the ACC for further investigations and in 2015 refused to prosecute Nikodemus due to lack of enough evidence.

In 2015, PG Martha Imalwa gave the green light for five charges, three for fraud, one for corruption and the other for tax evasion to be opened against Shandjuuka who, through his company S.H African Hardware, was the supplier for the tender.

She at the time declined to prosecute the business mogul, together with the former chief regional officer (CRO), Andowa Amutenya and director of planning at the time Abisai Shaningwa who was accused of pocketing close to N$1,2 million through his company, Four Solution Investments, which built 27 of these toilets.

In 2017 following more submission of further evidence by ACC on Nikodemus, Imalwa agreed for 21 charges to be opened against him.

The charges include an additional 17 levelled against Nikodemus, his brother Fillemon Nikodemus and Zimbabwean national Tonderai Makanjera for allegedly defrauding Ongwediva town council of N$3,37 million. 

Confidente understands that while investigating Nikodemus’ involvement in the Omusati tender, ACC further discovered that around the same time (2010-2012), Nikodemus and his unregistered company were also appointed by  Ongwediva as principal agents to plan, design, prepare tender documents, advertise, administer, evaluate and supervise the construction of social housing units for the town council.

For this tender, he did not only mislead the council with his uncertified company but he and his co-accused allegedly also forged signatures and documents and submitted fake invoices claiming up to N$3 million over the two-year period.

Nikodemus’ case which started in 2017 has been postponed to November 24 to set a trial date while Shadjuuka’s case started in 2015 and will resume on December 9 for the same reason.