'Fishrot Six' festive season release bid today

02 December 2019 | Justice

The 'Fishrot Six' are set to return to the Windhoek Magistrate's Court today to apply for bail, after a drama-filled appearance Friday in which the South African members of their legal team were arrested and found guilty of entering Namibia without work permits.

The six suspects are former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Investec Asset Management executives Ricardo Gustavo and James Hatuikulipi, as well as James' cousin and Esau's son-in-law Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo.

Moments before the court proceedings were set to kick off on Friday, immigration officials arrived at court to arrest prominent South African lawyers Mike Hellens and Dawie Joubert and confiscated their passports.

Two other lawyers, advocate Tinashe Chibwana and Gilroy Kasper, stepped in after 14:00 to represent the accused.

Chibwana asked the court to postpone the matter to today, because of the difficulties that occurred earlier. “This morning, the representatives of accused one and two were arrested. We request that the matter be postponed for a bail application hearing on Monday. We did not foresee the events of today and need more time to prepare,” Chibwana said.

Hellens and Joubert were fined N$10 000 each after pleading guilty to two counts of contravening the Namibia Immigration Control Act in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court. They are both well-known for having represented former South African president Jacob Zuma.



Begging for mercy

Advocate Esi Schimming-Chase, who represented the two South African legal eagles, appealed to Magistrate Venasius Alweendo to show them mercy and consider their families.

Schimming-Chase asked the court to consider that these lawyers had never been convicted before, and have had illustrious careers. They were also very sorry. “We request the court to take into consideration mercy. May this court consider a fine. They admit what they have done.”

State prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi emphasised that the duo are seasoned lawyers and were disrespecting Namibian laws.

“A fine would be sufficient, but must have an effect leaving the accused feeling they have been punished. An alternative prison term must be submitted.” Lutibezi said.

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