The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday said it will investigate how a highly confidential affidavit disposed by Windhoek lawyer Marèn de Klerk, one of the alleged key figures in the ongoing Fishrot corruption case, became public.
“We did not share that document. We have been with that statement since last year,” said acting director general Paulus Noa. “If we wanted to share it with the public, we could have done so a long time ago.
We know it is not the right time to share it. But be assured that we will get to the bottom of it.” In April 2020, De Klerk furnished the ACC with a 477-page affidavit depicting the role he played in the multi-million-dollar fisheries bribery scheme and in the same vein requested the anti-graft agency to keep his affidavit a secret until investigations have been concluded in the case.
The bribery scandal allegedly involves bribes amounting to over N$150 million, reportedly paid by Samherji, one of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, in return for preferential access to Namibia’s fishing grounds. “I respectfully request that this affidavit be treated as a secret until the investigation is completed as I verily believe that my life is at risk,” De Klerk, who is currently in South Africa, said. The lawyer had also requested to be treated as a State witness and sought indemnity from prosecution. De Klerk, who refers to himself as the ‘paymaster’ in the Fishrot scheme, says on 14 February 2020, there was an attempt to abduct him or alternatively assassinate him.
This, he said, happened while he was hospitalised in South Africa at a mental health facility. De Klerk revealed he experienced a mental breakdown on 17 January 2020 associated with the Fishrot investigations.
In his affidavit, De Klerk claimed Fishrot accused James Hatuikulipi and former Cabinet minister Sacky Shanghala were among the key role players in the scheme to set up a structure dubbed ‘Ndilimani Project’ that would deal with the “management and distribution of
contributions paid to Swapo and the government by their supporters.”
Shanghala and Hatuikulipi, according to De Klerk, had allegedly claimed to have been mandated by President Hage Geingob. In a statement on Sunday, the Presidency shot down the link, saying Geingob will at an appropriate time extensively address the “mischievous interpretations, to demonstrate their falsity”. “The President has in the past addressed and denied the most unfair and unfortunate allegations and insinuations being made against him in the matter you are referring to,” read the Presidency statement.
“The Presidency maintains his position in this respect. The case concerned has now reached a sensitive stage as the prosecutor general has taken a decision, and the case will soon proceed to trial.
The President will not seek to jeopardize or influence the administration of justice through public statements induced by the media.” According to De Klerk, former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, businessman Adrian Louw and his financial advisor Johannes Breed were among those who also played a role in the scheme. He also implicated former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, Director of DKHC Inc, Celeste Coetzee; D&M Rail managing director Dawie Moller and accountant Johan Penderis. De Klerk’s law firm and his company Celax Investment Number One is alleged to have been used to funnel N$75 million from the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) to entities owned by the accused. In December last year prosecutor general Martha Imalwa decided to arraign the Fishrot accused before the High Court, with a pre-trial scheduled for 22 April this year. At the time, the PG said De Klerk would also be charged as well as Phillipus Mwapopi and Otneel Shuudifonya. Mwapopi and Shuudifonya handed themselves over to the authorities last year and have since appeared before the court. They were remanded in custody.