AFTER spending the last two weeks in police custody, Melanie Claasen and Daleen Damens were able to walk free after they were granted bail of N$10 000 each.
The two taxation officers from Walvis Bay that were arrested on corruption charges during a sting operation by investigators of the Anti-Corruption Commission approached the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court with a formal bail application last week.
They stand accused of coercing a whistle blower into paying them a bribe to remove a lien from her business bank account. It is alleged that they initially attempted to extort N$100 000 from the tax payer.
They were caught each with an envelope containing N$10 000 in cash during the sting operation.
After considering testimony from both the accused persons and that of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigating officer, Magistrate Vicky Nicolaidis ruled that they may go free on bail.
Stringent conditions were attached to the granting of bail. The accused persons are under no circumstances allowed to contact the whistle blower and main witness in the matter. Magistrate Nicolaidis said that the two accused persons are not even to discuss the matter with any other person.
Both were ordered to not interfere with the ACC’s investigation and were warned to stay away from the Ministry of Finance’s offices unless expressly ordered to go there by their managers for possible disciplinary procedures.
Claasens and Damens during their bail application testified that they were put on leave by their employer but that in the meantime they have been notified that the process to suspend them from their positions as taxation officers is already at an advanced stage.
Claasens and Damens were also ordered to hand in the passports to the investigating officer.
Magistrate Nicolaidis postponed the criminal matter to 8 April 2020 and warned the accused persons to present at court on that date.