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Ruling soon on bail for Fishrot accused

2023-12-01  Roland Routh

Ruling soon on bail for Fishrot accused

High Court judge David Munsu has set 12 December as the date for his ruling on the bail application of two Fishrot accused. 

He made the announcement Wednesday after hearing oral submissions from defence lawyers Florian Beukes and Mbanga Siyomunji, as well as state advocates Ed Marondedze and Esekiel Ipinge, respectively. 

Beukes asked the judge on behalf of former fisheries minister Bernardt Esau to take the relative advanced age of his client into consideration when making his decision. He said Esau, at the age of 65 and with serious medical conditions, might not see the end of the trial, which is estimated to last for more than 10 years. He further submitted that Esau is determined to stand his trial and prove his innocence in court, and has no plans to run away.

Siyomunji, on behalf of Fishrot minnow Nigel van Wyk, argued that the state miserably failed to prove any of its allegations against his client. It would thus be a miscarriage of justice if he is to ‘rot’ in custody until found not guilty at the end of a very lengthy trial. He said Van Wyk was merely carrying out instructions from his erstwhile employers, Sakeus Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi, which resulted in his arrest. Furthermore, they proved that the monies paid into the bank account of Van Wyk were for salaries



 and other expenses related to his work as operations manager for his employer, Olea Investments. Siyomunji continued that the charges of obstructing the course of justice is a waste of the court’s time, and frivolous. This, he said, is borne out by the offer of the state to his client to plead guilty to common law obstruction, and that they would drop all other charges and not ask for any custodial sentence in lieu of time already spent in custody. The defence lawyer wanted to know why they would advance that offer if they have such a strong case, as they claim.

He said his client is serving a sentence without a trial, and has spent four years in custody for crimes he did not commit. 

Marondedze argued that it would not be in the interest of justice or the public to release the applicants on bail. He said the state had proved that they have a strong case against the applicants. He also submitted that Esau is in the care of the prison health officials, if needed. As one of the main architects of the Fishrot scheme, he faces serious jail time when convicted, and this would thus be an incentive to flee the country, he added.

Ipinge said Van Wyk committed the offences he is accused of, as they proved during the bail hearing. He too, said it would not be in the interest of justice or the public to release the accused on bail pending the trial.

The duo is charged alongside former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Fish Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya, former Investec Namibia (now Ninety-One) CEO James Hatuikulipi, his nephew Tamson Hatuikulipi, former director of Namgomar Pesca Namibia
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 dollars. The state claims that they received at least N$300 million in bribes to give a competitive advantage to Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia. The main trial is set to start on 5 December before acting High Court Judge Moses Chinhengo.


2023-12-01  Roland Routh

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