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Fishrot minnow in bail hearing

2023-03-03  Roland Routh

Fishrot minnow in bail hearing

The bail application of former minister of justice Sacky Shanghala’s employee, Nigel van Wyk, on new facts, started in the Windhoek High Court before Oshakati-based judge Davis Munsu on Tuesday.

The bail hearing of former minister of fisheries Bernardt Esau was put on the back burner for the time being because he is not available.

Esau is currently admitted to a private hospital in Windhoek after he fell ill. His lawyer Florian Beukes indicated to the judge that during his consultations with Esau on Monday, he realised that Esau was “irresponsive, lethargic, frail and not capable of giving meaningful instructions”. 

He thus organised for Esau to be taken to a medical doctor for treatment. The doctor then admitted him until further notice.

Van Wyk is asking the High Court to release him on bail as he had a major operation on his right leg by a South African specialist and his continued incarceration has bankrupted his nuclear family. He is also saying that his movable and immovable property have been repossessed due to non-payment. Furthermore, he said, the criminal charges he faced in Leonardville were withdrawn and the investigations into the Fishrot matter is finalised and the audit report exonerated him on the money laundering charges.

Van Wyk is facing two counts of racketeering; three counts of money laundering, with alternatives; one count of unlawful possession of ammunition; one count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice; one count of assault; resisting or obstructing an authorised officer, with its alternatives; and one count of theft. 

He previously worked at the Office of the Government Attorney, where he was a subordinate of Sackey Shanghala. He resigned from his position as a senior legal clerk on 31 October 2017, and started to work for Shanghala at Olea Investments. It is stated that he benefitted in the amount of N$1.9 million.  

The prosecution alleges that between January 2018 and December 2019, Van Wyk received more than N$697 000 from Otuafika Logistics. 

The company is co-owned by James Hatuikulipi and his cousin Pius Mwatelulo. It is alleged that during the same period, Van Wyk also received more than N$309 000 from Olea Investments, a company owned by Shanghala and Hatuikulipi.

 The money was allegedly transferred to Van Wyk’s personal account at Bank Windhoek. The State indicated that Van Wyk knew that the funds were derived from unlawful activities. 

Van Wyk and his boss Shanghala are also accused of attempting to defeat the course of justice. It is alleged that Van Wyk was caught by the ACC removing potential evidence from Shanghala’s residence in Windhoek. 

 The prosecution alleges that the material he removed could be evidence in the ongoing Fishrot saga, a case that is sensitive and of a serious nature.

Van Wyk claimed this week that the Bank Windhoek account was for business expenses on behalf of Olea Investments. He said that N$713 000 was paid into his FNB account as salary for the two years from 2017 to 2019. He further denied having known either Shanghala or Hatuikulipi in a personal capacity. According to him, he only came to know Shanghala when he was appointed as the government attorney in 2017 and James he got to know through Shanghala. He further told the court that he worked hard for his salary and that his job was not a typical eight to five, but that he worked irregular hours. He was the operational executive of Olea Investments, which in essence meant that he was running the company. On Wednesday and Thursday, he went through his salary payments into his FNB account and continued with the payments he made on behalf of Olea Investments from the Bank Windhoek account which was all subjected to approval from the accountant of Olea Investments, he said. He is represented by Mbanga Siyomunji on private instructions and the State by Ezekiel Ipinge assisted by Cliff Lutibezi. 

The bail hearing continues today with Van Wyk still in the witness box.

2023-03-03  Roland Routh

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