Fishermen protest over Fishrot

The fishermen expressed dismay over how the fishing industry in Namibia is run and called on the judicial system to deal with the Fishrot accused.

05 December 2019 | Local News

Around 300 fishermen gathered outside the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis Bay this week to protest against bail being granted to former cabinet ministers Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala in the 'Fishrot' corruption case.

The fishermen, who are all unemployed because of retrenchments made in the fishing industry in the last five years, held placards reading “No bail for Esau and Shanghala and others” and “Esau, Shanghala and others are corrupt sell-outs”.

A former regional organiser of the Metal, Mining, Maritime and Construction (MMMC) workers' union, Petrus Immanuel, expressed his dismay at how the fishing industry in Namibia is run and called on the judicial system to deal with the accused in the Fishrot scandal like they would with any other citizen.

“We found out that people like the former minister of justice, Sacky Shanghala, and the former minister of fisheries and marine resources, Bernhard Esau, are the people who are involved in the scandal of manipulating the fishing industry for their own benefit.

“We ask ourselves questions. The fishing company known here in Namibia as ArticNam Fishing has been receiving quotas from former fisheries and marine resources minister Bernhard Esau and dealing in nasty deals for their own benefit but again the very same Namibians that are working for the company are on the streets because they can no longer afford to pay them salaries.”

According to Immanuel, who is now an independent labour consultant, 46 Namibian employees were laid off and ArticNam Fishing employed casual workers in their place because it could afford to pay full-time salaries and benefits anymore.

“But the very same companies were the ones who were paying the ministers for their own benefits,” he said.

Immanuel also said that lawyer Sisa Namandje, who has been implicated in the Fishrot scandal after a documentary titled 'The Anatomy of a Bribe' was televised by Al Jazeera on Sunday, should be barred from practising law until the investigation is complete.

“I'm appealing to the Namibian justice system for his license to be suspended until the full investigation is done. If the government can't do it then there are a lot more people involved in this than we think. They are hiding,” he said.

Six men have so far been charged in connection with the Fishrot scandal. They are Shanghala, Esau, former Fishcor board chairperson James Hatuikulipi, businessman Fitty Hatuikulipi, Investec Asset Management senior employee Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo.

They will remain in custody at the Seeis police station, east of Windhoek, until the matter returns to court on 20 February 2020 or they launch another formal bail application. Their lawyers and the State agreed not to proceed with a bail hearing earlier this week in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court. The six face counts of corruption, fraud and money-laundering involving more than N$100 million.



ADOLF KAURE

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