Nekongo breaks silence on Fishrot money

The SPYL honcho refuses to state why N$65 000 was paid to him, but says he only came to know of Fishrot when it emerged in the press.

20 January 2021 | Crime

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Ephraim Nekongo yesterday said he did not know that the N$65 000 allegedly deposited into his personal account in 2017 through De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee (DHC) Incorporated, a defunct law firm accused of disbursing N$75 million allegedly laundered from Fishcor, was linked to what is now called the Fishrot bribery scandal.

Nekongo, speaking on Namibian Sun's 'The Evening Review' show yesterday, said he did not know anything about Fishrot until the scandal was laid bare in the press in late 2019.

Citing the fact that the matter is now before court, Nekongo flatly refused to state what the money was for, saying he would only divulge details if he was summoned before court or if the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) requested answers from him.

No investigative or prosecutorial authority has approached him over the matter so far, the youth league chief confirmed.



Payments

Evidence presented to courts and the ACC so far shows that several payments were made to Swapo functionaries, particularly those linked to the then campaign of President Hage Geingob's Harambee faction.

On Sunday, President Geingob had to issue a statement denying allegations made in fugitive lawyer Maren de Klerk's affidavit that the head of state had a hand in setting up a structure to deal with the management and distribution of contributions paid to Swapo and the government by their supporters.

Yesterday Nekongo did not deny that N$65 000 was paid into his account on 2 October 2017 and claimed there was bias towards him and other Swapo youth leaders named in the scandal.

“If you receive tainted money unknowingly and buy groceries at Shoprite, does that make Shoprite a criminal?” he asked.

“Then we have to list everyone who received this money – from kapana sellers, [groceries shops and car dealerships whose items might have been paid with this money].”

By 2017 when money was changing hands though DHC law firm, Nekongo said he was unaware of the alleged bribery scheme, which has landed his fellow Harambee campaigners, former ministers Bernard Esau and Sacky Shanghala, behind bars. Former Fishcor board chairman James Hatuikulipi, his cousin and Fishcor 'consultant' Tamson Hatukulipi and former CEO of the same company Mike Nghipunya are also behind bards awaiting trial.



Dodging questions

Pressed on what the money he received was for, Nekongo said: “This matter is before court. If I am a criminal as it is said, why must I make a statement while the matter is before court?

“I am not a criminal and I'll never be. People must verify their facts. Was I at Fishcor? Did I know there was such a thing as Fishrot? These are distortions made to damage some images. ACC can look for me if they have time.”

Other cohorts of Nekongo named as having received payments from DHC law firm are deputy works minister Veikko Nekundi, who allegedly received N$20 000 on 11 September 2017; Ndilimani Cultural Troupe's Joseph Gabriel, who received N$150 000; and his band manager Jesse Nombanza, whose vehicle loan settlement of N$443 000 in 2017 is also being linked to the scandal.

They have all denied receiving any funds corruptly.

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