Esau denies being friends with Shanghala

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Esau denies being friends with Shanghala

Roland Routh

Former minister of fisheries Bernhardt Esau yesterday said he and the Fishrot co-accused were never friends, but that they did have a cordial relationship.

He said this during his testimony in his ongoing bail hearing before High Court acting Judge David Munsu. Answering questions from his lawyer Florian Beukes, he said that he and former justice minister Sackey Shanghala were not friends as is portrayed in the media, and that he has friends of his own age. Esau was testifying about the memorandum of understanding he signed with his Angolan counterpart, Victoria de Barross-Neto, that paved the way for the establishment of Namgomar Pesca Namibia, which handled the quota allocated as governmental objectives through this bilateral agreement.

Shanghala was part of the delegation which first scoped around in Angola, and then when the agreement was signed. Esau denied that he was the one who involved Shanghala, who was the chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission at the time.

He strenuously claimed that he had nothing to do with the compilation of the delegates, and that it was entirely the prerogative of the then permanent secretary.

Esau and Nigel van Wyk are asking the High Court to release them on bail on new facts after both had previous bail applications refused.

They are charged alongside Shanghala, former Fish Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) chief executive officer (CEO) Mike Nghipunya, former Investec Namibia (now Ninety One) CEO James Hatuikulipi, his nephew Tamson Hatuikulipi, former director of Namgomar Pesca Namibia director Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi with several counts of fraud, racketeering, money laundering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, theft, tax evasion and their alternatives.

It is alleged that they conspired to change the Fishing Act to give unfettered access to Namibia’s rich fishing resources to international fishing conglomerate Samherji from Iceland in exchange for bribes of millions of Namibia dollars.