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Police probe N$3,4m ‘missing’ from Elcin

OMUSATI police commissioner Ismael Basson says the police in the region are investigating a case of theft, fraud and corruption involving three Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) officials suspected of defrauding the church of N$3,4 million.

“It’s alleged that the suspect(s) acted in their official positions or capacity to unlawfully and intentionally defraud Elcin for their own interest, which led to an actual prejudice of Western Diocese Nakayale,” Basson said yesterday.

One of the church’s senior pastors, Joseph Shikuma, registered a criminal complaint with the police in January.

Shikuma confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that he opened the case against a former finance director and a current church head and a former Elcin bishop for the western diocese.

The money was paid by the Ministry of Finance for outstanding rentals, repairs and renovations at primary school at Ongwediva and Okahao.

The case was opened after N$3,4 million paid by the Ministry of Finance to the church in March 2016 allegedly went missing.

“We want to hear what the money was used for and whether it was used in the interest of the church membership. We want to know why it was not declared to the head office at Oniipa and who authorised it to be used,” Shikuma told The Namibian yesterday.

Shikuma added that he wants the church to appoint a professional auditing firm to investigate the alleged disappearance of the funds.

The Namibian reported last year that the church tasked Shikuma to initiate an investigation into the alleged missing funds.

Elcin, in a monthly newsletter last year, said: “The church has referred the matter to the western diocese for investigation and the diocese is expected to report its findings at the church’s next conference.”

The bishop responsible for the western diocese at that time, Veikko Munyika, yesterday told The Namibian he was not aware of a case that had been reported to the police.

“I have heard about the allegations of stolen funds, but the church has appointed an investigation committee. That committee has not approached me, maybe they are yet to come,” he said.

Former church secretary Gideon Niitenge, who is now Elcin’s moderator, said he was not aware of the police case and referred further questions to Shikuma.

“The police never came to me and asked me about that. I am in the office as we speak,” he said.

Former Elcin finance director Ezron Kapolo, declined to comment when he was contacted yesterday.

However, last year Kapolo told The Namibian the money was not missing, but was used to build an office at the diocese’s headquarters at Nakayale and also to renovate various buildings.

“We have different sources of funds in the church. But to ask [what] specifically the money was used for, one needs [to] check the church’s financial report to see what it was used for,” Kapolo said.

Kapolo further told The Namibian that people saying money was missing wanted to create problem in the church.

He said the issue of the alleged missing funds has been discussed for many years, but people alleging that the money was lost never approached the diocese.

“I am not aware of any missing money. If they know that the money is missing, why didn’t they come to me. I don’t know what they want. They’ll kill me one day. If they’re convinced that I stole, they can come to my house or [check] bank account to look for it,” Kapolo said.

When called for contacted yesterday, Kapolo said: “I am afraid, I can’t comment at this stage.

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