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Prison lockdown halts Fishrot joinder hearing

2021-07-13  Maria Amakali

Prison lockdown halts Fishrot joinder hearing
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The hearing to have two Fishrot fishing quotas corruption cases – Namgomar and Fishcor consolidated as one – has been put on hold.

The joinder application was scheduled to be heard yesterday before Judge Christie Liebenberg.

However, according to Mike Nghipunya’s lawyer Milton Engelbrecht, he and other defence attorneys were given notice for the postponement by the High Court on Friday. 

Engelbrecht informed New Era the postponement was a result of the lockdown imposed on correctional facilities, where Nghipunya and his co-accused are currently being held pending trial. 

All the accused are currently held at the Windhoek Correctional facility after many failed attempts to be released on bail.

“We were informed that the new date will be communicated to us at a later stage – but so far, we haven’t heard anything,” said Engelbrecht.

Judiciary spokesperson Selma Mwaetako yesterday confirmed the case was postponed to 5 August. 

Last week, Namibian Correctional Service commissioner general Raphael Hamunyela announced a statement that correctional facilities countrywide will be on lockdown from 8 to 31 July. 

The lockdown was imposed to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. 

Consequently, inmates from the facilities will not be allowed to attend court sessions and would not have face-to-face visitations.

In the latest application, the state requested to have the two cases consolidated to be heard as a single trial. 

All the accused, except former minister of fisheries Bernhardt Esau and son-in-law Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, will oppose the application.

The two matters at hand are the Namgomar case in which Esau, Hatuikulipi, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, Nigel van Wyk, 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.

The group, alongside 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them, are charged with counts of racketeering, fraud, money laundering and other alleged crimes in connection to alleged fishing quota allocations and bribery.

The second matter is of Fishcor in which Esau, Shanghala, Tamson, James, Mwatelulo and 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 lawyer Marèn 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.

The accused are 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.

The state is yet to extradite de Klerk from South Africa and Icelandic nationals Egill Helgi Arnason, Ingvar Juliusson and Helgason Adelsteinn. 

On 19 February, Iceland said they will not extradite their countrymen to Namibia. 

- mamakali@nepc.com.na


2021-07-13  Maria Amakali

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