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Mbok arrested on fraud charge

Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Christof Maletsky
The Namibian

THE controversial owner of Dignity Housing Initiative, Tony Mbok, is behind bars.

Mbok (34) and Mateus Niklas Katamba (28) were arrested on Friday on charges of fraud.

Mbok and Katamba appeared in the Katutura Magistrate's Court yesterday and both indicated that they would need legal representation.

The arrest is linked to the alleged sale of a house without the owner's consent.

The case was postponed to December 12.

No bail was granted.

Mbok indicated to Magistrate Kauna Shilemba that he would get his own legal representation while Katamba will apply for legal aid.

Mbok is expected to apply for bail once his lawyer is available.

Breaking the news to The Namibian yesterday, Mbok's wife said he was innocent.

Mbok made headlines earlier this year when some Katutura residents claimed he cheated them.

They claim he promised them houses worth between N$50 000 and N$65 000 if they paid a deposit of N$5 000 in addition to a refundable administration fee of N$250.

The project, launched in March last year, never got off the ground.

The houses were supposed to be for people earning between N$800 and N$7 000 a month.

Some of the residents have instructed the Legal Assistance Centre to help them recover their money from Mbok, who claimed that he was in business with a consortium including estate agency Pam Golding, estate agent Helena Mandevhu, Marbex Construction, Stoney Construction, Solbric Namibia and Africon as the engineering firm for the project.

These concerns have denied partnership with Mbok, saying he used their names to con people out of thousands.

Mandevhu even laid a criminal charge against him.

Mbok paid back some of the clients after they demanded their money back.

Earlier, Norman Tjombe, Director of the Legal Assistance Centre, said the agreements between Mbok and his clients were invalid, as no prior permission for the construction of the properties had been obtained from the City of Windhoek and from the Townships Board as required by law.

The agreement also contravened the Banking Institutions Act of 1998, he said.

Mbok said they were not contractually obliged to refund the clients, as they did not pay the deposits directly to his company but to housing agents, but his company used its discretion to pay back in certain cases.

He claimed that a large-scale development of affordable houses was seen as killing the market for the banks and thus they were reluctant to finance his project.

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