The Namibian Windhoek Adam Hartman
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MEMBERS of the Swapo party’s Swakopmund district have questioned how businessman Sylvanus ‘Bobboh’ Kathindi was elected as district information secretary as he has a criminal past.

Besides the question from party members, the Namibian Police also questioned how Kathindi produced a clean certificate of conduct, yet he was jailed by the High Court for diamond theft in 1991.

Party sources said being information and mobilisation secretary is a powerful and responsible position that requires honesty and transparency.

The incumbent is responsible for gathering, analysing, publishing and disseminating information on the social, economic and political realities of the region, and is required to propagate, explain and defend the policies of the party.

Party members also questioned how Kathindi’s past could have slipped the vetting of candidates, suggesting that people had turned a blind eye to it.

« How can one trust a person with important party functions who is not honest about his past? There are others who have bad records, and who withdrew from the contest either because of a good conscience, or for the respect of party rules and procedures, » a source said.

Kathindi called the claims a « baseless smear campaign against him » in order to unfairly and unlawfully prejudice him for other people’s gain.

According to him, more than 70% of the delegates at an extraordinary conference of the Swakopmund district earlier this month elected him into the position, and the proceedings were supervised by members of the Erongo executive committee, including regional coordinator Philipus Heita, who declared the election free and fair.

Heita, however, said he had no idea of the criminal records.

Kathindi said ‘comrades’ who have an issue with him should follow the channels within the party, and bringing it to the media showed contempt to the party’s leadership, constitution, processes and integrity.

« As to the allegations of dishonesty, I refute them with the contempt they deserve as it was not a requirement for selection according to the Swapo party constitution, against which all matters within the Swapo party must be measured, » he said, adding that, as far as the information and records available to him are concerned, he has no criminal record.

He even provided a copy of a police certificate of conduct issued in September 2012, stating that there were no convictions recorded against [him] for any crime reported in Namibia.

Kathindi said he « will not enter into any further engagement in this regard, directly » and had copied in his legal representative, Richard Mueller.

A request for an explanation from Kathindi or his lawyer via email how he managed to obtain a clean certificate of conduct if he was a convict earlier, was not responded to, except a return receipt from Mueller stating that the email was deleted without being read on 11 October.

The story on Page 3 of The Namibian of 7 November 1991 headlined ‘Five years for diamond theft’ states that Kathindi (22 then), a former worker of CDM, was found guilty of stealing 28 uncut diamonds from the mine in January 1991, and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by the High Court. The diamonds were valued at N$174 232.

Kathindi pleaded not guilty, and told the court that he had been framed. But this was rejected by presiding judge Theo Frank, who found him guilty then.

Police spokesperson deputy commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said it was highly unlikely that the police would issue a clean certificate of conduct if someone had been convicted and jailed for a crime.

He was baffled when The Namibian told him that several police sources involved in fingerprint processing and the applications for police clearance certificates said a person’s name could be « removed from the system » after they had served the sentence for a crime.

Kanguatjivi said old manual records are currently being transferred to a digital database, and that there was a small possibility that names could fall out of the system during the process. But he maintained that it was still highly unlikely as there must be a paper trail. The transfer of data to a digital base started this year.

Kanguatjivi said they will investigate the authenticity of Kathindi’s certificate.

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