State prosecutor Ezekiel Iipinge yesterday told Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, one of the key figures in the Fishrot scandal, that his closest proximity to the fishing industry before he married Ndapandula Esau was eating fish.
Iipinge was questioning Hatuikulipi on his relationship with former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau in his bail application on new facts before High Court acting Judge David Munsu.
He further accused Hatuikulipi of using his newfound connection to Esau as a tool to become involved with the Samherji group of companies, who were looking for an entry into the Namibian fishing industry.
“You introduced yourself as the son-in-law of Namibia’s fisheries minister and even showed the Samherji executives pictures of your wedding to confirm you are who you said you are,” Iipinge put it to Hatuikulipi.
The latter, however, disputed this and said it was in fact Jóhannes Stefánsson, the Fishrot whistleblower, who first asked him about his wedding that took place one month before he met Stefánsson in November 2011 and asked him to show him pictures of the wedding.
Iipinge, however, pressed the argument and quoted from an affidavit by Icelandic national Ingvar Júlíusson in which it is stated Hatuikulipi introduced himself as the son-in-law of Namibia’s minister of fisheries.
Hatuikulipi vehemently denied this.
He further said he never discussed Samherji with his father-in-law, Esau, or his business dealings with them.
He further said after Samherji offered him a consultancy to acquire them access to Namibia’s fishing industry, he “subcontracted” his cousin and fellow Fishrot accused James Hatuikulipi to help him “identify” new fishing rights holders and entice them to sign catching agreements with Samherji.
This, he said, was because of James’ track record and vast network in Namibia.
Iipinge wanted to know who did the actual work in finding the “partners”, and he acknowledged it was James but said because he was the owner of the memorandum of understanding with Samherji, he was the one in charge of the project.
They managed “through hard work” to convince three joint ventures with fishing rights to enter into agreements with Samherji to catch their fish, he stated.
Iipinge wanted to introduce some documents after lunch, but Hatuikulipi’s lawyers objected and said they did not have a chance to consult their client on the documents, and asked for a remand for them to consult.
The State had no objection, and Judge Munsu remanded the matter to tomorrow.
Tamson; his cousin James, the former Fishcor board chairperson; Esau; Ricardo Gustavo (on bail); former justice minister Sacky Shanghala; former Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya; Pius Mwatelulo; Otneel Shuudifonya; Phillipus Mwapopi and Nigel van Wyk are facing more than 40 counts, comprising racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft and money-laundering, as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
It is alleged by the State that they corruptly received payments to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
The State alleges all the accused acted with a common purpose.
Also on the list of people added to the charges is lawyer Marén de Klerk.
The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa as well as Icelandic nationals Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason.
Hatuikulipi is represented by Florian Beukes, who is assisted by Richard Metcalfe, while Iipinge and Ed Marondedze represent the prosecution.