Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg set 12 July as the date for the hearing of an application by the State to join the two Fishrot matters – Namgomar and Fishcor – to be tried as one case.
This came after Ronald Kurtz, who stood in for advocate James Diedericks on behalf of former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former managing director of Investec Asset Management Namibia (now Ninety One) James Hatuikulipi, and Pius Natangwe Mwatelulo indicated that they would oppose the joinder application.
All the accused except former minister of fisheries Bernardt Esau and Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, who is also the son-in-law of Esau, will oppose the application.
The judge gave Kurtz – in no uncertain terms – until today to file his opposing papers, and further ordered that the State must submit their heads of argument on or before 5 July, and the opposing parties theirs on or before 7 July. He then postponed both matters to 22 July for another pre-trial hearing.
Lawyer Richard Metcalfe then brought the court’s attention to Icelandic legislation that states Icelandic citizens may not be extradited to other countries for criminal trials.
The State is requesting the extradition of Icelandic nationals Egill Helgi Arnason, Ingvar Juliusson and Helgason Adelsteinn. According to Metcalfe, Iceland has already on 19 February indicated that they will not extradite the three Icelanders to Namibia. State Advocate Ed Marondedze has previously indicated that they will make use of State channels to assist with the extradition. Metcalfe further said that lawyer Marèn de Klerk, who is currently in South Africa, cannot be an accused in the trial, but rather a State witness as he provided the Anti-Corruption Commission with a composite statement, and can thus be classified as an informer for the ACC. This, he said, makes him not liable for prosecution, but rather a witness for the prosecution under the ACC Act. According to him, this could speed up the trial if the State stops chasing ghosts.
In the Namgomar matter, former minister of fisheries Esau, Shanghala, Hatuikulipi, his cousin Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, who is also the son-in-law of Esau, Ricardo Gustavo, a senior manager at Investec Asset Management Namibia, Mwatelulo, Nigel van Wyk, Shanghala’s lackey, Otneel Nandetonga Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi are charged with corruptly receiving payments of at least N$103.6 million to allow Icelandic fishing company Samherji secure access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
In the Fishcor matter, Esau, Shanghala, Tamson, James, Mwatelulo and former CEO of Fishcor Mike Nghipunya are facing charges ranging from racketeering to fraud and money laundering. Also on the list of people to be added to the charges is De Klerk, who is charged as representative of Celax Investments, which was allegedly used as the conduit to funnel millions of dollars from Fishcor to the bank accounts of the accused.
Also on the list of accused are legal entities Erongo Clearing and Forwarding cc and JTH Trading cc represented by Tamson; MH Property Projects represented by James; Ndjako Investment cc and Fine Seafood Investment Trust represented by Shuudifonya; Otuafika Investments cc represented by Mwatelulo; Otjiwarongo Plot Fifty-one cc represented by Esau; Gwanyemba Investment Trust represented by Nghipunya; and Wanakadu Investment cc represented by Mwapopi.
The accused will be charged with seven counts of racketeering, 12 counts of contravening the Anti-corruption Act, four counts of fraud, alternatively theft, and four counts of money laundering.
In the Namgomar matter, the legal entities charged are Namgomar Pesca Namibia represented by Gustavo; Erongo Clearing and Forwarding, JTH Trading and Fitty Entertainment represented by Tamson; Otuafika Investments and Otuafika Logistics represented by Mwatelulo; Olea Investments, Erf One Nine Zero Eight Zero Kuisebmond, Greyguard Investments and Cambadara Trust represented by James; Omholo Trust represented by Shanghala; Esja Holdings and Mermaria Seafood Namibia represented by Arnason; as well as Saga Seafood, Esja Investment and Heinaste Investments represented by Juliusson.
They will be arraigned on two counts of racketeering in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act; two counts of money laundering; three counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act; three counts of fraud, with alternatives of theft and tax evasion; and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Van Wyk alone faces further charges of unlawful possession of ammunition and assault on a member of the police, while he and Shanghala face a charge of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
The accused remain in custody after several unsuccessful bail applications and appeals.
Marondedze is assisted by Cliff Lutibezi.