Two of the Fishrot suspects incarcerated at the Windhoek Correctional facility’s section for trial awaiting inmates were yesterday charged in absentia for contravening the Prisons Act at the Katutura Magistrate’s Court for the illegal possession of cellphones
Because of the lockdown currently in force in the Khomas region, James Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo were not brought to court and Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni postponed the matter to 14 May on request of public prosecutor Victoria Likeus.
According to the charge sheet, they were found in possession of two cellphones, a power bank and a smartwatch during a search of their cells on 29 March.
The search was conducted after it was discovered the two have been sending out Twitter messages from their prison holding cells.
They face a charge of possessing prohibited articles in a prison environment.
Hatuikulipi and Mwatelulo are incarcerated on charges of corruption and fraud with former Cabinet ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and former suspended CEO of Fishcor Mike Nghipunya.
The main trial was postponed to 23 April by Magistrate Philanda Christiaan.
It is alleged the Fishrot Seven, as they are now known, and Nghipunya received bribes from Icelandic Fishing company Samerji for unfettered access to Namibia’s lucrative fishing grounds.
All in all, it is alleged they received bribes in excess of N$150 million. However, they are currently being charged for corruptly using their offices for gratification. It is alleged during August 2014 to December 2019, the accused persons acting in common purpose directly or indirectly, corruptly and intentionally used their offices in public bodies to obtain gratification of N$76.6 million on the pretext that such amount was for government objectives being monies meant for National Fishing Corporation (FishCor) from Saga Sea Food and Mermaria Seafood and which money was paid to them or entities of their choice through Celax Investment Number One via the law firm DHC Inc. for their own benefit. Tamson and Mwatelulo alone face a charge of conspiring with another to commit an offence under the Criminal Procedure Act and the Anti-Corruption Act.
It is alleged they intentionally and unlawfully conspired with Esau, Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi and Gustavo during the period August 2014 to December 2019 to commit an offence.
All seven faces a further charge of fraud. It is alleged they acted in common purpose wrongfully, unlawfully, falsely and with intent to defraud, gave out and pretended and/or misrepresent to Fishcor and/or the government of Namibia that the payments, which were channelled to them and/or entities of their choice through Celax Investment Number One and the law firm DHC Inc. in the total amount of N$76.6 million that was meant for government objectives.