By Marianne Nghidengwa
THE Namibian police’s Internal Investigations Directorate (IID) has launched a massive probe into a syndicate operating within the force’s Training and Development Directorate, which since 2014 has allegedly been using government money to purchase medical stock in bulk, before privately selling the medicine, and pocketing the money.
This comes as government is cutting expenditure to the bone, with the Finance Ministry implementing a raft of austerity measures, in the midst of a cash crunch.
A Confidente investigation has revealed how senior police officials have also allegedly been buying medicine and equipment from the Central Medical Store (CMS), and once payments are processed by the force’s finance directorate, the supplies are sent back, and the money shared by those involved.
Confidente is reliably informed that the scam has been reported to Nampol Inspector-General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, as well as Safety and Security Minister, Charles Namoloh, and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Ndeitunga said this week that the matter was brought to his attention and that he instructed officials within the IID to investigate.
He said he had also received an interim report from the directorate’s head, Commissioner Monaliza Molebugi.
“I can confirm allegations of that nature that were brought to my attention. I can also confirm that I received an interim report from the directorate’s head saying the allegations are malicious. I, however, wanted to be sure, so I instructed officers to look further into the matter. ” Ndeitunga said.
Confidente is informed that excess medicine, including painkillers and antibiotics were bought regularly in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
According to figures presented as part of the national budget for 2017/18, the police’s Training and Development Division received N$38.6 million for the purchase of materials and supplies in 2015/16, while in 2016/17 it received N$23 million for the same purpose. The budget has now been dramatically slashed to a mere N$2 million for the current financial year.
The main objective of the police’s Training and Development Directorate is to maintain a competent workforce.
Its main scope of operations is to provide educational and skills development opportunities to members of the force in professional fields, which include strategic leadership and management, information and communication technology, crime analysis, crime prevention, investigation and detection, forensics, crowd control, riot policing, counter-terrorism and dog handling, among others.
Confidente could not verify the quantity and actual losses incurred because of the alleged scam, as the book and documents containing the financial records linked to these medical purchasing transactions have allegedly been destroyed.
The medical supplies are purportedly purchased for Nampol’s four training centres across the country – Israel Patrick Iyambo in Windhoek, Ruben Danger Ashipala in Ondangwa, Pius Joseph Kaundu in Gobabis and Simon Mutumba in Katima Mulilo.
The alleged scam involves purchasing in bulk, and mostly without the training centres asking for the stock.
According to police procedures, medicine should only be bought when the centres conduct the training of their cadets or when there is a particular need.
A Confidente investigation has uncovered that because the bulk buying became so much, excess medicine has been dispatched to police clinics, without them even asking for stock.
In other cases, medicine has allegedly been burnt, to avoid enquiries about the massive stockpiling.
Stockpiles burnt to ‘avoid
During October 2016, a labourer was reportedly ordered to burn some of the medicine on Patrick Iyambo Training Centre grounds. The medicine exploded and burnt his arm. To conceal the incident, the labourer was allegedly treated internally.
“They had no mandate to burn the medicine, so that incident was never reported. It is dangerous to burn medicine, but they had bought so much of it that they did not know what to do with it,” said a source this week.
However, this may just be a tip of the iceberg, as the ongoing probe uncovers evidence of senior officers being involved in stealing from the force, by purchasing surplus medicine and equipment, before selling it to private medical institutions and pocketing the money.
Confidente is informed that in 2014 four autoclave machines, used to sterilise medical equipment, were purchased at a cost of N$20 000 each, before senior officers allegedly pocketed the commission. The machines are reportedly lying idle at the training centres.
“The machines are not used, because of the clinics’ level, which normally treats cadets during training and other officers. They (the machines) are not needed. They bought those machines so that they pocket the commission. Those machines are collecting dust,” a second source said.
In 2015 senior officers reportedly bought two boxes of cardiac catheters, which are thin, hollow tubes used to evaluate or confirm the presence of heart disease. Each box contains 50 units.
Sources, however, said that the force’s clinics are not at a level to use these tubes, as they are either used at hospital casualty units or for acute care in cardiac wards.
Confidente understands that the boxes were kept at the Patrick Iyambo Training Centre in Windhoek, where they were later sold to a private medical institution.
“The police clinics are at no level to use cardiac catheters. They bought them using Nampol funds, only for them to sell the tubes and then pocket the money. The boxes were collected from the centre on two separate occasions. It was reported to senior police officials, but they did not act,” a third source said.
Confidente has also learnt that in 2015, the directorate purchased medicine in bulk and sent it to clinics at the four centres, without documents.
In some cases, the regional centres allegedly send back the supplies, because they did not need them.
Confidente is also in possession of a document from a training centre, dated 19 May 2015, in which it complained about having expired and unused medicine among its stock.
“The supplies were dispatched without documents or issuing vouchers. It was sent back to Windhoek, but has since been sold to private institutions. Officials at the clinics reported receiving medicine they did not request for and they cannot keep it without papers,” sources told Confidente.
Massively inflated prices
During August 2016, the Training and Development Directorate reportedly bought equipment not used at the force’s clinics, at inflated prices, which saw Nampol forking out N$197 928 at a private medical supplier, instead of N$6 700, which is the normal price at other private medical suppliers.
Three pairs of post mortem gloves were purchased at a cost of N$937, with a unit price of N$312, while a box of 50 pairs normally costs N$315 and the unit price is N$7.
Oxygen medical masks were also bought at a cost of N$12 893 for 16 units, with a unit price of N$805 while the normal price is N$27 each.
Nebuliser masks were purchased for N$6 133 for eight units, with a unit price of N$766 while standard price per unit is N$81. A bed screen was also bought for N$8 952, as opposed to the normal price of N$2 571 per unit.
Four regulators were purchased for N$60 189, with a unit price of N$15 047, while the normal cost is N$1 757 per unit. Four flowmeters with humidifiers were also bought at a cost of N$47 392, at a unit price N$11 848, while the normal price is N$126 each.
A further N$13 580 was also paid for 100 disposable masks, at N$135 per unit, while the normal unit price is N$13.
An oxygen cylinder was bought at a cost of N$22 971, while the normal price is N$1 213.
The allegations are that there are either kickbacks involved, or the purchasers were given commission.
Another avenue of investigation is whether the medical supplies were sent back, and the officers then pocketed the money, after buying at a cheaper supplier.
“It is not known where these supplies are and whether they were bought in good faith. These are items hardly used at Nampol clinics,” another source added.
When contacted for comment this week, Commissioner Molebugi said that she cannot comment, because of procedures.
“There are procedures to be followed, please contact public relations.”
Chief Inspector Hilde Shiimi, who is responsible for purchasing the medical stock on behalf of the Training and Development Division, declined to comment.
Confidente had asked her specifically about the allegations surrounding the scam and whether her position does not put her at the centre of the allegations.
She was also asked about the incident during October 2016, when a labourer was reportedly ordered to burn some of the medicine on Patrick Iyambo Training Centre grounds
“I’m sorry my dear, I do not know,” Shiimi said.
Minister Namoloh said that he would have alerted Ndeitunga or Safety and Security Permanent Secretary Treffeine Kamati, as the accounting officer, if the allegations had reached him sooner.
“Such allegations are very serious, and if they were reported to me, I would’ve taken it up with my PS or the inspector-general. I cannot sit on anything like that, but at the same time I cannot start investigating what I don’t know.”
Nampol Head of Health, who falls under the Gender and Welfare Directorate, Commissioner Ileni Shikomba, said the allegations are news to him.
Shiimi’s subordinate, Warrant Officer Erica Justus said, “I do not know what you are talking about,“ before referring Confidente to the division’s head, Commissioner Molebugi.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015