Senior official nabbed for selling national documents

By  Confidente Reporter

THE Namibian Police on Wednesday arrested a senior administration officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs at its Okahandja sub-regional office for illegally issuing Namibian national documents to foreign nationals for amounts ranging between N$6 000 and N$75 000.

Confidente has it on good authority that the senior official has been running the syndicate for several years with the help of middlemen, including a renowned local record label owner.

It is understood that the senior administrator will be charged with corruption for misusing his office, amongst other charges, when he appears in the Windhoek Magistrates Court soon.

Confidente has since learned that 12 cases were reported against the senior administrator and are under police investigation for illegally issuing national documents to foreign nationals. All 12 documents bear the senior administrator’s signature and were issued in Okahandja between 2018 and 2020.  The Namibian Police however suspects that the list of foreign nationals issued illegal national documents by the senior administrator is long.

It is not immediately clear why steps were not taken sooner against the senior administrator who allegedly continuously and illegally issued national documents to foreign nationals.

The police recently also arrested a local man, Theofelus Thiyave Thimende, who appeared in the Windhoek Magistrate Court on 16 January on charges of fraud, forgery and uttering. He was caught applying for a passport for a suspected foreign national, Godfried Weya Thimende, who illegally obtained a full Namibian birth-certificate issued by the senior administrator at Okahandja.

While Godfried and Theofelus are not related, the latter was allegedly promised N$10 000 payment if he succeeded in obtaining the passport. His luck, however, ran out and he was nabbed by the police. He will return to court on 23 March.

Godfried, according to his forged Namibian document, was born on 2 April 1984 in Rehoboth but was only issued a birth certificate on 9 January 2020. On his forged documents, he enlisted a deceased Namibian man – Johannes Thimende –who died in Divundu in 2014 as his father.

In a motivation letter he addressed to Home Affairs to be issued a passport speedily, Godfried said he needed the national document due to his medical condition and wanted to seek treatment in South Africa. He also claimed in his letter that he had a medical appointment set for 20 January.

Godfried is currently on the run and the Namibian Police are tracing his whereabouts. His real names and nationality still remain a mystery to authorities. The Namibian Police has urged Godfried to hand himself over to authorities while asking the public to help with his whereabouts.  Those with information can contact Nampol Deputy Commissioner Abner Agas on 081 6235574 or Detective Inspector Nehale on 081 714 2618.

Confidente understands that some public officials who misused their positions by selling the country’s national documents remain in office pending lengthy disciplinary hearings.  They are said to continue to have access to the system which gives them a chance to continue issuing national documents illegally. Confidente could not independently verify this at time of print.

An investigation by Confidente in 2018 unearthed that there is a high demand by foreign nationals to acquire Namibian citizenship by hook or crook, which has seen them spend thousands of dollars buying off some unscrupulous Home Affairs officials, as well as ordinary Namibians who pose as their parents to officials at the ministry.

The country’s National Population Registration System (NPRS) was said not to be clean as a number of non-Namibians had managed to infiltrate it. This led to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Namibian Police fearing that these foreign nationals use their bogus Namibian identity documents to get jobs in ministries, as police officers, soldiers, as well as at private companies.

Former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ambassador Patrick Nandago at the time said the selling of Namibian identity documents to foreign nationals constituted a threat to national security.

“It’s a big security risk to the country as some of these foreign individuals that end up with our national identity documents posing as Namibians have no sense of patriotism to Namibia. They won’t hesitate to sell off the country. Some of these people end up committing crimes in other foreign countries while travelling on a Namibian passport and tarnish the image of Namibia. Those are some of the things our people are not aware of when they agree to assist foreigners acquire Namibian identity documents.

“Everyone is trying at all cost to acquire Namibian identity documents. We have mostly people from West Africa, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and to a certain extent Angolans, especially those from southern Angola because it’s so difficult to distinguish them from Namibians since they share the same language and culture, the same situation we also have with some Zambians,” Nandago said.