Esau a fool, Nghipunya a flight risk - ACC

08 June 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



While referring to former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau as a fool, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigator and State witness Willem Olivier also described suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya as a flight risk.

Olivier, who was testifying in Nghipunya's bail hearing, said the accused has business interests in Angola. Nghipunya has surrendered his passport and is offering to pay bail of N$150 000.

In his application, which kicked off last week in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, Nghipunya said he has cooperated with investigations into the Fishrot corruption scandal.

Advocate Thabang Phatela, who is representing Nghipunya, asked Olivier in what sense his client had failed to meet the government's objections in his capacity as Fishcor CEO.

Nghipunya and his co-accused, among them Esau, former Fishcor board chairperson James Hatuikulipi and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, are accused of selling fishing quotas allocated to Fishcor to Icelandic fishing company Samherji.

The quotas were meant to be sold to meet the government's development objectives.

Responding to Phatela, Olivier said: “He (Esau) was a fool for signing those agreements.”

Esau had allegedly approved the sales and instructed Nghipunya how the fishing quotas were to be sold.

Fishcor's allocated horse mackerel quota was sold to Samherji, resulting in the company transferring N$75.6 million through the trust account of DHC Incorporated to companies owned by Esau, Hatuikulipi, his cousin Tamson Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelulo and Shanghala, Olivier earlier testified in Nghipunya's bail application.

Phatela had argued that Nghipunya had to carry out Esau's instructions.

Nghipunya's bail application has been postponed to 11 and 12 June.

The State is also opposing bail on the grounds that Nghipunya may interfere in investigations.

Deputy prosecutor-general Ed Marondedze represents the State, while Magistrate Ingrid Unengu is presiding.