FOURTEEN prospective Namibian car owners allegedly lost about N$1 million to a former Oshakati Senior Secondary School teacher-cum-car dealer last year.
The former teacher, James Kapembe, who is now in South Africa allegedly promised to import second-hand cars from Japan through Botswana but failed to deliver them to the prospective buyers after receiving deposit payments.
Kapembe, however, has blamed this on issues with customs.
Oshana police commander inspector Thomas Aiyambo told The Namibian that he is not aware of the cases.
“No I’m not aware of it, maybe it’s with the investigators,” Aiyambo said.
One of the alleged victims, Simon Vaefeni, claims he paid Kapembe a N$90 000 deposit towards a Volkswagen Jetta last May.
The total price for the car was N$120 000, with the remainder to be paid upon delivery.
“Weeks later when I followed up, he said he had sent someone to pick up the car, however, the person crashed the car. I saw for myself it was really not fine. We took it to someone to fix in Oshakati but later it had to be sent to Windhoek because they could not fix it,” says Vaefeni.
Kapembe then gave Vaefeni a temporary car to use while he was fixing the one that broke down but never fixed the broken car and told him to keep the temporary one as a replacement, says Vaefeni.
However, Kapembe allegedly never supplied the car’s ownership papers.
“I wanted the papers for the car because I suspected it could be stolen and I did not have anything to show for it. I still have the car but I do not have the papers,” he says.
Another alleged victim, Paulus Ndhikua, claims he lost N$50 000 in August last year to Kapembe who had promised to import a Volkswagen Polo or Toyota Corolla for him.
“I went to the bank and transferred N$45 000 on 17 August 2022, and two days later he called me saying that I need to add an extra N$5 000, which I gave to him by hand as we were colleagues,” he says.
Kapembe then allegedly went to Botswana and imported two cars for different owners but not one for Ndhikua.
“When he went, he never came back and he told me he was in Botswana and some of his cars were stolen, including mine. He told me he will replace my car,” Ndhikua says.
Another alleged victim, Tuhafeni Johannes, says he lost about N$121 000 paid to Kapembe in June last year. The money was meant to import his car within three to four days.
“He said my car will be with me within three to four days as it was in Durban which is near Namibia. That was too good to be true and I told him the same thing and he promised it would be here during the provided time frame,” he says.
Kapembe then delivered an irregularly registered car which was seized by customs.
“I paid for the car and the car did not have documents so I went to the police for a declaration to explain my situation in case I get blocked on the road,” he says.
To this day, Johannes has still not received the car’s documentation, resulting in the car being detained by customs because he could not register it with Natis, he says.
Another prospective buyer, Lipitwa Nghihepa, says she gave Kapembe N$60 000 last February for a car that is yet to be delivered.
“I reached out to Kapembe, who was introduced to me by a cousin and I told him what car I wanted. He said the cars come from Japan and will take two months to get here.
“I asked for a loan from the bank and transferred it to Kapembe. He said I will get my car in two months,” she says.
“I even threatened to take him to court.”
Meanwhile, Kapembe told The Namibian last month that he had ordered all the cars but could not deliver them to the clients as he needed to pay customs and never got the invoices.
He also accused his clearing agent of selling his cars without his permission.
The clearing agent, who spoke to The Namibian anonymously, says Kapembe still owes him money.
“I paid, thinking that Kapembe will soon secure the funds and he will pay back my money in order to get his cars,” he says.
He dismisses Kapembe’s claims that he sold the cars in question.
“Kapembe paid for the cars in Japan but did not pay for freight so three containers came and when they land at the port, the port has to charge. There are basic charges, which is normal for landing. After few days, there are extra charges, which are like a penalty called a storage fee. Then there is the shipping line, the owners of the containers so all those were not paid as he couldn’t pay,” he says.