An emotionally-charged Prosecutor General, Martha Imalwa, has moved to dispel the widely-held belief that she is in the pocket of politicians.
Imalwa sternly told a media conference on Wednesday that there have been perceptions and criticism of her office centred on the widely-held belief by the “public court” that she is shielding some political heavyweights from being prosecuted for their involvement in the GIPF scandal in which over N$600 million is alleged to have been lost in questionable investments.
The prosecutor general is also accused of protecting politically connected individuals involved in the disappearing of N$30 million in the Social Security Commission Avid case, N$100 million in the ODC debacle and recently, N$300 million in the now-defunct SME Bank.
Imalwa took exception to reports from the Windhoek Observer which suggested that she was corrupt by shielding her son from prosecution.
In 2016, the Windhoek Observer quoted former Windhoek Magistrate, Hileni Kavara, who alleged that Imalwa was corrupt and had abused her office by refusing to prosecute the politically-connected and those close to her.
Kavara claimed in an interview that Imalwa was involved in cover-ups and withdrawals of cases involving high-ranking officials, judges’ sons and the husband of Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who had been charged with rape in the Outapi Magistrate’s Court.
Kavara also highlighted alleged political interference in a bail application of an Angolan national, Edgar Vemba, who was accused of motor vehicle theft at Ritter’s Toyota.
She claimed that a Cabinet minister, whose identity is known to the Windhoek Observer, called her, as the presiding officer, to say that denying the suspect bail would lead to a diplomatic incident.
Kavara said at the time that she was later removed from the case without her knowledge, and the suspect was subsequently granted bail by a “friendly” magistrate.
Kavara also accused Imalwa of shielding her son, Benjamin, from prosecution by failing to decide on a case in which he and a co-accused Sebulon Nghimtina were arrested and charged with rape in August 2012.
Court documents show that the matter was struck off the roll in September 2014 after the defense counsel had argued that the matter had taken too long to finalise because of the “indecisiveness” of the office of the prosecutor general.
Kavara alleged that Imalwa had influenced the decision to have her son granted bail less than 24 hours after his arrest, when others arrested for similar offences had waited up to eight months for bail to be granted.
This week, Imalwa challenged reporters and members of the public to prove their allegations.
She said only the President, Hage Geingob has immunity not to face prosecution while in office.
“If I am corrupt and there is evidence to prove your allegations, why should you shy away? Just report to the relevant authorities and provide the evidence you have. I am not above the law,” Imalwa declared.
She denied protecting Tona Amadhila, husband to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
"I have been accused of protecting Amadhila the husband to the Prime Minister, but the complainant is still living. Why don't you call her and find out why the prosecution is not proceeding?" Imalwa charged.
She said that she will never protect anyone who has committed an offence if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute such an individual.
“In addition, I have not and will never prosecute anyone without there being a prima facie case established against him/her just because of public pressure. I have taken an oath to carry out my mandate of criminal prosecution as entrenched in the Namibian constitution without fear, favour or prejudice.”
Imalwa said she feels that her detractors were trying too hard to link her with the ruling SWAPO Party only because she went into exile when she was a teenager.
“Why should I be criticised? [Is it] because I was in exile? But being in exile doesn’t mean that I am a politician, it doesn’t mean that if I was in exile I cannot do my work independently. If I am so corrupt, why am I not being investigated?
“I supported SWAPO when I was in exile, but I don’t participate in SWAPO meetings. I have no family member in the leadership of the ruling party and my work doesn’t require me to participate in politics.”
“When I am dealing with a matter or case I don’t look at which party you belong to. I am a lawyer by profession and what I practice is law, not politics. I don’t even know what is happening in SWAPO. What I know is through what you bring to us; that is what we read.”
She challenged reporters to investigate her lifestyle to see if she was living beyond her means.
“You can follow my way of living and see what you will gather. I am a human being with feelings. If every day you appear in newspapers being accused of being corrupt, will that not anger you?”
She said criticism being leveled against her and her office shows that there is something sinister at play.
“Is it because I am a woman or because I come from an unknown family of subsistence farmers? I need someone to tell me that I am not doing my job except for these unfounded allegations. The problem in this country is that there are people who have vendettas against certain individuals.”
“I applied for this position; I was not taken from the streets. I started my prosecutor career in 1992 and I rose through the ranks. I applied for this position and I was interviewed by the Judicial Services Commission who interviewed everybody and I succeeded; that is how I won the post. Because of my performance, my contract was extended.”