Nghipunya's future at Fishcor under discussion

• Not getting paid during suspension

16 September 2020 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



The future of suspended National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya is currently under discussion, board chairperson Mihe Gaomab II has informed Namibian Sun.

Nghipunya and former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, businessman Tamson Hatuikulipi and Hanganeni employee Pius Mwatelulo have been charged with money laundering and bribery and are currently in jail.

The charges stem from allegations that Nghipunya, Esau, Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi used their positions between August 2014 and December 2019 to obtain N$75.6 million that Fishcor paid to them or entities of their choice.

The money was allegedly paid through DHC Incorporated, the law firm of Maren de Klerk, who is currently in South Africa.

Gaomab said the board was looking at an objective approach to engage the employment status of Nghipunya and was assessing his continuance at the corporation.

“The board is currently looking at an objective approach to engage in terms of the employer-employee relationship and to assess on a recommendation on the continuation or termination of Mr Nghipunya's employment, specifically with reference to his inability to tender his services as a consequence of his detainment as this has implications on the flow of work concerning the mandate of the corporation in terms of the Fishcor Act 1991,” he said.

“This process is however internal to the temporary board and not yet finalised. Once this process is finalised, the temporary board will be in a better position to make a decision in this regard.”



Nghipunya without pay

Nghipunya's lawyer Milton Engelbrecht recently argued in court that his client was suffering as a result of the status of his employment at Fishcor.

“My client's salary has been stopped, he suffers financially, he is not in a position to pay his legal fees,” he submitted.

Gaomab admitted that the corporation was unable to pay Nghipunya because of his detention owing to the Fishcor matter which is currently before the courts.

“Mr Nghipunya is still employed as the CEO of Fishcor, however, because he is detained and cannot tender his services, he is not entitled to any remuneration or any other benefits flowing from the employment relationship,” he said.

Nghipunya was suspended in December last year. He handed himself over to the Anti-Corruption Commission in February this year.



Bid for release

Nghipunya has made a renewed High Court bid to be released on bail and has argued that he is not a flight risk.

His bail application was denied by the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in July. Appealing the magistrate's court decision, Nghipunya's lawyer argued that he had never engaged in any that could lead to an objective conclusion that he would interfere with the State's case.