• April 4th, 2020

Fishrot Six court battle continues



WINDHOEK - The Fishrot Six have turned to the High Court once again in a bid to have search warrants issued against them set aside, while also challenging the seizure of their assets by the Financial Intelligence Centre. 

In the first urgent application filed on 10 January, the group is challenging the process adopted in applying for the search warrants, the actual search, and the search warrants themselves as well as the conduct of officers of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Namibian police. 

The group is arguing that there was no application for the search warrants as there was no affidavit in compliance with the law relied upon for purposes of applying for the search warrants. 

The search warrants were executed between 9-15 December 2019. With reference to the affidavit of former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, he claimed that the affidavit that were relied upon in attaining the search warrants lacked details such as the name of the officer in charge of the search. 

He also questioned the lack of details on what was to be searched and how properties such as cell phones, desktop computers, iPads, memory sticks and other external electronic devices were utilised in the alleged corrupt practices. 

The documents further state that the ACC and Nampol officers used the search warrants to seize N$60 000 that allegedly belongs to Esau’s son and N$18 000 meant for the former minister’s farm.  With the same search warrants, the officers seized Esau’s draft will, farm livestock records and receipts and other documents.  In addition, the officers further seized Esau’s co-applicant former justice minister Sacky Shanghala’s vehicles, which included a Range Rover Vogue and Mercedes-Benz E400.  
Furthermore, Shanghala’s will and that of other people not related to the investigations, were also seized as a result of the search warrants. 

“I have indicated that the search warrants now appear to be preservation orders or at least been interpreted as such by the officers of the second respondent. I submit that the officers of the second respondent are abusing the search warrant process,” said Esau. 

Esau and his co-applicants further claimed the officers failed to provide a detailed inventory of what was removed from their premises. The urgent application seeking an interdict against the search warrants will be heard on 4 February 2020. 

‘Blanket freeze’
In their second urgent application, the group is challenging the legality surrounding the blanket freeze of their accounts at various financial institutions. 

The accused argue that their right to property has been and continue to be illegally violated as a result of their accounts being frozen.  

James Hatuikulipi whose 15 personal and trust accounts were frozen indicated that the director of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) failed to communicate when they were going to impose a blanket freeze on the accounts and on which basis such a decision was made. 

In his affidavit, Hatuikulipi states FIC failed to meet the jurisdictional requirements that enable them to freeze any account.  

In addition, FIC did not act within its mandate, thus their actions to freeze the applicants accounts were unlawful and should be set aside by court, he further argued. The applicants further want a court order ordering FIC to unfreeze the applicants’ banking accounts. Apart from Esau, Shanghala and Hatuikulipi, the group also consist of Tamson Hatuikulipi and Ricardo Gustavo. 

Pius Mwatelulo, who is the sixth applicants, withdrew from the application. 
The urgent application against FIC will be heard on 6 February 2020. 
The six were arrested last year after they were implicated in the international fishing scandal, which reportedly generated kickbacks of at least N$150 million. 

Supreme Court challenge 
Meanwhile, the group have also filed an urgent application in the Supreme Court challenging the High Court orders, which declared their bid to be released last year from police custody not urgent. The group sought court orders that would set aside the warrants of arrests, the decision to prosecute them and decision to postpone their case to 20 February 2020. 

The group further wanted an order that would have them released from police custody with immediate effect. 

However, the High Court ruled that their case lacked urgency and should be struck from the court roll. They are detained at Windhoek Correctional Facility.


Maria Amakali
2020-01-24 07:34:58 | 2 months ago

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