Kamatuka quizzed over extortion claims
Windhoek City Deputy Mayor Gerson Kamatuka was summoned to explain claims that he had demanded a 10% stake in a company that had applied for land to put up a multi-million dollar steel project in Windhoek.
During a high-level meeting on March 26, Kamatuka denied allegations that he had asked businessman Ben Hauwanga to make available a stake in his N$21.7 million steel joint venture with South African tycoon Rami Barnes.
It was claimed that Kamatuka asked Hauwanga to make available the shareholding in return for a favourable consideration of his application.
Namibian Sun understands that Windhoek Mayor Ellaine Trepper, worried by allegations made against her deputy, convened a meeting in which Kamatuka who was asked to explain himself.
Windhoek City CEO Niilo Taapopi, Chairman of the Management Committee Agnes Kafula and Hauwanga also attended the meeting.
Although the allegations of extortion are said to have originated from Hauwanga, the businessman allegedly stated in that meeting that someone else in the City and not Kamatuka, made the unprecedented demands.
Kamatuka yesterday referred all inquiries to Trepper and Taapopi, saying the two are the ones with authority to comment on matters related to the City of Windhoek.
“I appreciate the fact that you have contacted me to hear my side of the story but I am not the head of the City,” the Swapo councilor at City chambers said.
Trepper yesterday refused to comment over the phone, asking this reporter to make an appointment with her office.
Taapopi confirmed that the meeting was called to seek clarity on the damning allegations made against Kamatuka.
“It’s true that there was such a rumour after a certain lady approached the mayor with such claims,” he said.
The CEO said the meeting took place just moments after BH Steel, the company that had applied for land, made a presentation for its envisaged project to the City principals.
“We were all impressed with their presentation but the Mayor wanted the air to be cleared after the allegations of extortion came to the fore,” Taapopi told Namibian Sun.
In that meeting, Kamatuka is said to have denied the allegations, a version corroborated by Hauwanga who said he had never met the deputy mayor in person before, apart from hearing his name and seeing her on television.
The woman who raised the allegation, a consultant who acted as a bridge between the BH Steel owners and the City, stuck to her guns but the steel manufacturer’s representatives maintained that the person who made the demands was someone else in the City.
Despite Trepper’s demands to know who the said employee is, his or her identity was not revealed.
“In the end it was concluded that there was just a misunderstanding,” Taapopi said.
Namibian Sun can now reveal that the City, at its council meeting last month, approved the application for BH Steel for a land measuring 2,03 hectares in Eros.
“The reason why the Mayor sought clarity on the allegations was because we wanted to approve or disapprove the application on merit and nothing else,” Taapopi explained.
“There are just too many versions with regard to that allegation and I really don’t know who’s telling the truth and who’s not.”