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More theft charges levelled against activist

More theft charges levelled against activist

Zorena Jantze

ANOTHER institution, After Break magazine, has come forward with claims that they were defrauded by activist, Lebbeus Nghidimondjila Hashikutuva, after he failed to account for N$40 000 meant for the youth-led publication.

Hashikutuva was earlier this week thrust into the spotlight after information surfaced that he had failed to account for US$5,000 (about N$75 000 in today’s exchange rate) awarded to the #ShutItDown movement by the Office of the African Union Youth Envoy.

In the latest case, the Afterbreak Magazine, a Namibian digital youth magazine established in 2018 by Rejoice Amutenya and Mehafo Amunyela, states that it has suffered a similar fate at the hands of the activist, whose work mostly surrounds victims and survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

The two teenage entrepreneurs added that in November/December 2020 they were contracted to provide content by a certain company.

They, however, did not know the media industry well enough and contracted Hashikutuva to assist them.

Amutenya, in her capacity as co-owner of Afterbreak Magazine, gave Hashikutuva the right to enter into three contractual agreements with the company.

“With banks closed and Rejoice being out of town, we asked that Hashikutuva sign the contracts and provide a bank confirmation letter which he already had,” the statement published yesterday reads.

It is further reported that in mid-April 2021, the unnamed company informed them that they had processed final payments for two of the contracts they had signed.

Hashikutuva reportedly acknowledged receiving the money and that an amount of N$10 000 was paid into his account.

They added that less than a month later, Hashikutuva had claimed that he could not access the N$10 000 paid into his account as he had lost his phone, bank card and identification documents.

Upon further enquiries on the funds, Hashikutuva claimed that he tested positive for Covid-19 and lost yet another phone.

“On 30th June, we received another payment through Hashikutuva from (Company A) for the final contract, despite our advice not to as we had no access to his account at the time, we sent the invoices because he claimed to not have any identification. Two weeks later, Hashikutuva stated that he obtained his passport and failed to get the funds from his account.  He then told us that he asked for his bank statement and saw that all the money coming into his account was being deducted. He further explained that a bursary he was awarded back in 2017 was taking back their money as he had dropped out of school,” the owners of AfterBreak narrated.

The two co-owners of Afterbreak magazine have since opened a case of theft under false pretences with the Namibian police.

“For six months, Hashikutuva has consistently made excuses and has not given us a single cent from N$40 000 paid to him on behalf of Afterbreak magazine. We hope that justice is served,” the magazine entrepreneurs concluded.

In the matter regarding the missing money from the #ShutItDown movement, a statement published today confirmed that Hashikutuva on Tuesday paid the money back.

The movement is, however, demanding for the transaction history and access to the account to ensure that the monies weren’t attained through dubious means.

The organisation insists that attempts to get such bank records from Hashikutuva have proven futile despite several requests.

“While we would like to proceed with our programming, we think that it is absolutely pertinent that he hands over access to the bank account which has opened under the formal capacity of #ShutItAllDown. This request is crucial as it would allow us to scrutinize the transaction history and confirm whether or not his communication (that he was unaware of the receipt of the funds) is factual or if he just buckled under the pressure and pulled money at the last minute,” the statement reads in parts.

Hashikutuva was again not reachable for comment as his number remained off.

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