Accused in Fishrot scandal expected in court on Friday

Ten (10) men arrested in connection with the alleged Fishrot corruption scandal, are scheduled to make another appearance in the Magistrate’s Court here on Friday (29 May 2020).

On 23 April this year (2020), the 10 men lastly re-appeared in absentia before Chief Magistrate Phillanda Christiaans in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court along Luderitz Street without the accused personally appearing in court due to the strict regulations of the existing State of Emergency instituted to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

On that day (23 April 2020), the 10 accused persons’ case was postponed to 29 May 2020 due to the existing above-mentioned strict regulations of the ongoing State of Emergency.

The first six key accused persons include former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, businessman James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo.

The six men were all arrested in November 2019 for allegedly receiving bribes amounting to more than N.dollars 150 million in return for giving preferential access to Namibia’s fishing grounds to Samherji, one of Iceland’s largest fishing companies.

The other four accused are suspended chief executive officer of the National Fish Corporation (Fishcor), Mike Nghipunya, Windhoek residents Nigel van Wyk and Jason Iyambo, as well as Sakaria Kuutondokwa Kokule, a member of the Namibian Police Force’s Reserve Unit.

Van Wyk was arrested in December 2019 after he was allegedly caught trying to remove evidence from Shanghala’s house.

Both Iyambo and Kokule were arrested in January 2020 on charges of attempting to bribe an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officer involved in the Fishrot scandal investigations.

Iyambo and Kokule are charged with contravening Section 34 (a) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 2003 for allegedly corruptly offering N.dollars 250 000 to ACC investigator Junias Iipinge for him to remove ATM cards from the evidence so far obtained by the ACC in connection with the matter.

The duo also each face a second charge of obstructing the course of justice for the same offence.

Nghipunya was arrested in February 2020 for also allegedly receiving bribes in return for giving preferential access to Namibia’s fishing grounds to Samherji.

The 10 men are all legally represented by Windhoek-based defence lawyers Florian Beukes, Appollus Shimakeleni, Gillroy Gasper, Kalundu Kamwi, Trevor Brockerhoff and Jarmaine Muchali.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondezde appeared for the State on 23 April 2020.

The first seven men are still being kept in police custody at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility, while Kokule, Iyambo and Van Wyk are kept at the Seeis police station on the eastern outskirts of Windhoek.

Source: Namibia Press Agency