Bribery saga accused make renewed plea for freedom

10 September 2020 | Justice



Lawyers representing the Fishrot accused have asked the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court to provisionally release their clients, as the State cannot say when its investigations will be finalised.

They argued yesterday that the State does know when investigations will be complete, adding it is not in the interest of their clients to remain incarcerated, as this infringes on their basic human rights.

Florian Beukes, who represents former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, argued that Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigator Andreas Kanyangela was not a truthful witness during cross-examination.

Kanyangela had told Magistrate Vanessa Stanley last week that investigations into the allocation of fishing quotas, allegedly in exchange for bribes, were nearly complete.

Beukes further informed the court that the slow pace at which the investigations were moving was causing his clients anxiety.

Rights infringed upon

Beukes further informed the court that his clients had not been able to see their children since they were arrested last November, and that family visits had been restricted since 22 March, when the country was placed under lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beukes also informed the court that his clients have been paying legal fees despite not earning an income. Their bank accounts have also been frozen.

Case flawed

Advocate Tinashe Chibwana, who is appearing for former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and Pius Mwatelulo, argued that the State’s case was flawed.

He moved that the court refuse a further remand.

Milton Engelbrecht, who is appearing for suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, informed the court that his client had voluntarily handed himself over to the authorities, and therefore dismissed any notion that Nghipunya was a flight risk.

Financial losses

Engelbrecht further informed the court that Nghipunya was not earning a salary and was not in a position to continually pay legal fees.

Engelbrecht further moved that the matter provisionally be withdrawn or that the court applies its discretion.

Gilroy Kasper, who is appearing on behalf of former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, said Kanyangela was at pains to mislead the court during cross-examination.

Investigation taking time

State prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi asked the court to remand the case, saying that evidence was being submitted by various jurisdictions and that the process was taking some time.

Lutibezi added that documents and bank statements needed to be analysed and perused. Lutibezi further pointed to the fact that the matter was complex.

According to him, the accused would interfere with evidence if released from custody.

Stanley postponed the matter to today.

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