An employee of the Namibian Institute of Pathology (NIP) who erroneously claimed that Covid samples were really tested and resulted in negative results, and thus received $54,230, first appeared before Windhoek Magistrate Linus Samunzala yesterday.
Uuika Nuunyango (34 years old) did not file a forgery case and the use of forged documents by an agent. But her attorney, Nambili Mahata, indicated to the judge that his client would plead not guilty to the charges.
She allegedly falsely, unlawfully, erroneously and with fraud intent provided and pretended to NIP and the State that 53 Covid-19 test specimens had been genuinely tested and the results came back negative, and through these false allegations, caused NIP and the State an actual loss of N$54,230.
It is also alleged that she used her position as an employee to manipulate the aforementioned Covid-19 results into a false negative result, thus perpetrating a fraud.
On the second count, she, who worked as a registered nurse at NIP, is alleged to have used false test results to mislead the NIP, the state or any other person, and is therefore guilty of violating the Anti-Corruption Act, which carries a fine not to exceed 500,000 Namibian dollars or imprisonment not exceeding 25 year, or both.
Prosecutor Silvia Kauluma strongly objected to the bail, saying the crimes committed were extremely serious, and that Nonyango abused her position of trust in the NIP. She further said that the known consequences of false negative test results are exacerbated by the fact that the accused enabled 53 people to travel internationally with false results, putting the lives of not only Namibians but people globally at risk of potential infection with the dreaded disease.
Kauluma further argued that there was a protest against the devastating effects of Covid-19, and that the defendants’ actions had put the lives of countless people at risk. Thus, it is not in the interests of justice or the public to grant her bail. She added that the community is crying out over the number of Covid-19-related deaths per day, while the country struggles to contain the outbreak of the virus. According to Kauluma, the state is in the process of searching for 53 people with false results.
The courtier argued that the accused was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and said the bail was of an urgent nature. He told the court that he would submit a bail application on Monday, as agreed with the prosecution.
According to him, the grounds on which the state objects to bail are flimsy and weak at best. One common reason, he added, was that the state’s objection that the accused might interfere with state witnesses could be remedied by setting strict conditions.
The accused has been suspended and thus has no access to the NIP or its files and computers. Furthermore, Nuunyango has a minor child for whom she is solely responsible. Regarding the state’s statement that it has endangered the lives of many people with its actions, Mahata said that the NIP has issued a statement saying that the incidents do not in any way affect the integrity of the tests, as per its intent. To deny the guilt, there is also no evidence that she actually manipulated any outcomes.
The case was brought back on Monday to formally request his release on bail, and Nonyango remains in custody at Windhoek Police Station.