Fishrot a daylight robbery, says court

In the most damning ruling yet in the Fishrot scandal, a magistrate yesterday gave the clearest picture of the legal troubles the accused in the matter would face.

23 July 2020 | Justice



Windhoek magistrate Duard Kesslau yesterday described evidence presented before him during the bail hearing of Fishrot accused Bernhardt Esau and his son-in-law Tamson Hatukuilipi, who are implicated in the so-called Fishrot scandal, as 'daylight robbery'.

He denied the pair bail on account that the two men face a range of serious charges involving public funds, the magnitude of which has never been experienced in Namibian courts before.

Kesslau added that the accused both played a role in the bribery scheme starting with Esau, without whom this would not have been possible.

According to Kesslau, Esau was the one who used his position as minister to corruptly allocate quotas to Namgomar and National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).

Bigger picture

Fishcor is at the heart of the bribery scandal, which has landed Esau, Tamson, ex-justice minister Sacky Shanghala, ex-Fishcor board chairperson James Hatuikulipi, suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya and former Investec business manager Ricardo Gustavo behind bars.

Kesslau added that it was Esau who initiated legislative amendments when needed with Shanghala.

At that time, Shanghala was the head of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) and later became justice minister.

He added that at face value, the documents appear to be above board, but when one looks at the bigger picture, the question that comes to mind is “was this robbery in broad daylight?”

“Evidence suggests that both the Namgomar and the Fishcor matters appear to be initiated and orchestrated by Esau and Sackeus Shanghala. Laws were amended if needed, agreements made, companies registered, frequent name changes of entities and movement of monies between them. The obvious family link between Tamson and Esau cannot be ignored, linked in turn to a cousin James Hatukuilipi, and linked in turn to Ricardo Gustavo at the same company, Investec. Logic dictates that that cannot be all a coincidence,” he said.

Jukebox alert

According to Kesslau, money laundering is usually money obtained illegally and introduced back into the system through another type of business.

“These include uncontrolled gambling, a car wash, farming, lawyers' trust accounts – businesses ran by Tamson Hatukuilipi.”

He added that a tell-tale indication of money laundering is usually when money is constantly moved without reason from one entity to another.

“There were regular loans between Tamson and James. Why was that? It appears that none of you needed the monies,” he said.

Kesslau also asked Tamson why he had sent N$760 500 to his cousin, Ndapandula Hatukuilipi, in London, yet he claims not be in contact with her.

The duo is represented by Richard Metcalfe, assisted by Florian Beukes.

White-collar crime

Kesslau dismissed Metcalfe's argument that white-collar crime should always get bail as exactly the reason why the public has lost their confidence in the justice system

“That is absolutely not a message that this court wants to portray, therefore, I find a valid ground for bail to be refused.”

Kesslau, however, pointed out that the Windhoek Magistrate Court will not keep an innocent person in custody if there is not a strong case against them.

Questions without answers

According to Kesslau, Esau and his son-in-law's refusal to be cross-examined has left the court with many unanswered questions.

Kesslau emphasised that sworn statements are used to save time during urgent applications, but the duo had enough time to answer under cross-examination in order to give the court an opportunity to observe their demeanour.

According to Kesslau, the duo has a strong case to answer to pertaining to a number of unexplained money transfers and the court is not convinced that they will not abscond or interfere with the investigation of the Fishrot cases.

He added that interference is always a possibility in every case, however, it can be successfully prevented with bail conditions.

“Both applications are well connected in various levels of society, so much so that Tamson knew of his pending arrest based on connections, according to his statement,” he said.

Drug addict

Kesslau also said the defence's assertion that whistle-blower Johannes Stefanson is a drug addict with an axe to grind against his former employer is highly unlikely.

“His credibility will be negatively influenced by his role, however, much of his evidence appears to be corroborated by documents, other witness statements and the flow of money. It is highly unlikely that in his drugged state of mind he decided to frame the applicants by taking pictures, mentioning them in minutes, etc,” Kesslau said.

Wedding bells

According to Kesslau, Tamson suddenly found himself in 'property heaven' after his wedding to Esau's daughter.

Kesslau said it is unlikely that Tamson bumped into Icelandic Fishing giant Samherji directors by accident.

“It is unlikely that vast amounts of money will be paid for consultation or ensuring joint ventures to be signed up. In all probability, it was payment for their parts played. Highly unlikely that Esau was unaware of the direct benefit Tamson was enjoying from the allocation of quotas to Namgomar or Fishcor,” he said.

He added that Esau was also aware that Tamson and Samherji are in business as he saw these officials at his son-in-law's house.

“Tamson, by his own admission, was paid per tonne of quota, which was ensured by Esau. If all was above board, why the need for all the different entities and monies being moved between them?” Kesslau asked.

Kesslau also wanted to know who had introduced Tamson to Stefanson at the Hilton Hotel in Windhoek.

“How did you know to be there? Evidence shows that you had a photo (wedding picture) ready to prove your relationship with Esau.”

Plot 51, Otjiwarongo

Kesslau also said Esau's explanation regarding the plot in Otjiwarongo can safely be rejected as false.

This is taking into account how his instructions changed from utter surprise to admitting signing a memorandum of understanding.

[email protected]

Similar News


'Wife stealer' dealt court blow

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Justice

Kenya KamboweNDIYONA An alleged serial wife stealer has been dealt a blow by the justice system after an assault case he reported against...

Bottleneck killer pleads guilty

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Justice

ADOLF KAURESWAKOPMUNDMurder accused Showen van Wyk (26) pleaded guilty when he made his first appearance before the Swakopmund Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.Van Wyk admitted his...

Covid delays Möller murder trial

5 days ago - 22 September 2020 | Justice

ERWIN LEUSCHNERSWAKOPMUNDThe start of the murder trial of the five men accused of murdering Walvis Bay businessman Hans-Jörg Möller in 2016 has been delayed until...

Gertze's attempted murder case withdrawn

1 week ago - 18 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKNamibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) CEO Franz Gertze is off the hook after the Office of the Prosecutor-General declined to prosecute him for a shooting...

Estate agent guilty of stealing Congolese general's money

1 week ago - 16 September 2020 | Justice

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKA Swakopmund estate agent accused of stealing US$900 000 (N$6.7 million) from a Democratic Republic of Congo military general ten years ago has been...

Fishrot 7 could be released

1 week ago - 15 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKA magistrate yesterday thinly suggested the court might have no further reason to keep the Fishrot accused in custody if investigators do not wrap...

Masule ruling on 28 September

2 weeks ago - 11 September 2020 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKGovernment attorneys yesterday argued that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the urgent application brought by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)...

'Strike Fishrot case from the court roll'

2 weeks ago - 11 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEK Trevor Brockerhoff, the lawyer representing former Investec manager Ricardo Gustavo, has asked the Windhoek Magistrate's Court to consider striking the Fishrot...

Bribery saga accused make renewed plea for freedom

2 weeks ago - 10 September 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEKLawyers representing the Fishrot accused have asked the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court to provisionally release their clients, as the State cannot...

Court grants husband bail after wife dies in 'scuffle'

2 weeks ago - 10 September 2020 | Justice

NAMPAGOBABISThe Gobabis Magistrate's Court on Monday granted bail of N$2 000 to Fritz Paul, who allegedly killed his wife during a scuffle at Farm Kroonster.Court...

Latest News

Government wage index increases in...

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKU The government wage index stood at 133.0 basis points during the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 0.9 percent, compared to an...

No English cucumbers will be...

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Economics

ELLANIE SMITNo English cucumbers will be imported into Namibia until further notice. This was announced to horticulture producers earlier this week by Namibia Agronomic Board...

Millennials thrive in learning organisations

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | People

Chaze NalisaMillennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, are dynamic, with a wealth of potential to contribute to the transition, sustainability and growth of an...

Attitude is everything

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | People

Mariselle StofbergWith his people relationships and excellent communication skills, Chris Matthee understands the importance of listening and communicating clearly and with the appropriate level of...

Attitude is everything

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Banking

Mariselle StofbergWith his people relationships and excellent communication skills, Chris Matthee understands the importance of listening and communicating clearly and with the appropriate level of...

Without a trace

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKAs the family of Shannon Darlikie Wasserfall battles to deal with the trauma of her disappearance - without a trace - nearly...

DBN seeks interim replacement for...

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Business

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) will find a temporary replacement for its senior manager for corporate communications Jerome Mutumba until his return from...

Economy loses nearly N$6bn in...

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Economics

Jo-Maré Duddy WINDHOEKAbout N$5.7 billion less flowed through the economy in the second quarter due to the lockdown and related Covid-19 measures...

DBN Innovation Award winner makes...

2 days ago - 25 September 2020 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUWinner of the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) 2019 Innovation Award, Pulsar Electronics, is making strides with a DBN enterprise development and support package...

Load More