Fishrot accused swim solo for bail

29 May 2020 | Justice



The cracks are starting to appear in what was previously a joint chorus sheet to either apply or stall applications for bail on the part of the Fishrot accused, legal experts say.

The Fishrot accused will stand a better chance of fighting for bail individually, the experts said.

“If you look at the scheme, it seems that there was a decision to appoint (former Investec client manager) Gustavo Ricardo Gustavo as the fall guy in the eventuality they were caught. For him [Gustavo], it would be best for him to separate himself,” a lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

“Depending on how long they will sit in jail, they may all end up splitting with everyone to fight for bail individually,” the lawyer said.

Another lawyer added: “When you apply for bail, you can be cross-examined. If all stand in the box together, there is a bigger chance of being implicated by your fellow accused.

“I think they feel safer relying on their individual stories and they probably feel their involvement makes them less guilty than the main culprits.”

Freedom bids

Gustavo, suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and his alleged hanger-on Nigel van Wyk have all made attempts at securing their individual freedoms.

Gustavo stands accused of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and acting in common purpose to wrongfully, unlawfully, falsely, and with intent, defraud government. Gustavo's bail hearing was postponed to 3 June.

Van Wyk stands accused of defeating the ends of justice. He was caught by police allegedly trying to remove items from the private residence of Shanghala.

Nghipunya stands accused of using his office for self-gratification for having conspired to obtain N$75.6 million on the pretext that it was meant for government objectives. Nghipunya's application for bail is set for 4 and 5 June.

Other accused in the Fishrot matter are former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, former Investec CEO James Hatuikulipi, Hanganeni employee Pius Mwatelulo, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Esau's son-in-law, Jason Iiyambo and police reservist Sakaria Kokule.

Fishrot files

The so-called Fishrot Files, published in December 2019 by WikiLeaks, comprised of emails, memos, PowerPoint presentations, company financial records, photos and videos, and show how Samherji, one of Iceland's largest fishing companies, allegedly colluded with senior political and business figures in Namibia, including Esau and Shanghala, to gain preferential access to the country's lucrative fishing grounds.

Documents obtained by Al Jazeera show that from 2012, Samherji made payments over US$10 million (N$175 million) to Esau, as well as to companies owned by Shanghala, Tamson Hatuikulipi, and to his cousin, James, the then chairman of Fishcor.

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