Geingob in the dark about Shanghala legal fee request

25 February 2021 | Justice

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

President Hage Geingob yesterday said Cabinet has not yet seen a request by incarcerated former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, who demanded that the government pay his legal fees in the Fishrot case.

“There was no discussion whatsoever. Maybe attorney-general Festus Mbandeka is still studying it, if he were requested officially. I don’t know anything about it,” Geingob said.

Mbandeka said his office was still looking into the matter and would then notify the parties concerned.

“The matter has been received; we shall respond accordingly once we have done all the considerations to the matter. We have to understand that this is a matter, which decision cannot just be shared in public (sic),” he said.

Shanghala has been in jail since November 2019 and his assets, including his bank accounts, have been frozen as part of an investigation into allegations that he and his cohorts had facilitated and accepted bribes worth millions of dollars in exchange for fishing quotas.

Tick tock

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah yesterday said this delay from the government to make a decision was bad for its image and would add fuel to suspicions that the government cannot be trusted to handle the Fishrot case in a transparent manner.

“These are baseless suspicions but they must be controlled. When it takes such a long time, it creates room for people to believe something sinister is happening behind the scenes,” he said.

Shangala, who served as justice minister at the time of his arrest, is accused of having accepted bribes in exchange for lucrative fishing quotas.

He is also accused of having amended the Marine Resources Act to grant his co-accused, former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, the sole right to dish out fishing quotas through which millions of dollars ended up in the accounts of companies linked to the now notorious Fishrot Six and their allies.

Shanghala was arrested alongside Esau, James and Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo following reports that Icelandic fishing firm Samherji had secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia by paying bribes of around N$150 million to politicians and businessmen between 2012 and 2018, according to the Fishrot Files of Wikileaks.

Of the six accused persons, only James Hatuikulipi, Shanghala and Mwatelulo are yet to apply for bail.

Esau and his son-in-law, Tamson Hatuikulipi, are still fighting to be granted bail in the High Court, after the first attempt was dismissed in the Magistrate’s Court.

Esau offered his entire wealth of N$23 million as surety for his bail, in addition to N$50 000 in cash, while Tamson Hatuikulipi offered N$16 million worth of unbonded immovable properties.

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