Samherji's vessels left legally – Namport

Namport and the fisheries ministry have come under fire after Icelandic fishing company Samherji's vessels were allowed to leave Namibian territorial waters despite the Anti-Corruption Commission planning to attach its assets.

06 February 2020 | Crime

The Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) says it had no legal obligation to detain Samherji's fishing vessels, which left Namibian waters last week.

Namport as well as the fisheries ministry came under fire this week after reports that Icelandic fishing company Samherji's vessels were allowed to leave Namibian territorial waters after the Anti-Corruption Commission had planned to attach the entity's assets.

Samherji finds itself entangled in the Fishrot corruption scandal.

Namport's acting CEO Victor Ashikoto said while the company is responsible for port facilities and the movement of vessels into and out of its ports, it has no jurisdiction over which vessels are allowed to enter or leave Namibian territorial waters.

“The Directorate of Maritime Affairs is the custodian of Namibian waters for all vessels leaving or entering. It is the authority that gives final approval,” Ashikoto said.

He further said Namport only permitted vessels to enter or leave its ports' limits upon approval from the directorate.

“In the case of fishing vessel Geysir and fishing vessel Saga, the clearance of both vessels was done according to procedure,” he said.

The departure of the vessels has resulted in the loss of jobs of about 220 employees and an unspecified number of contractors who were attached to the company. One of the vessels is currently in the Canary Islands for scheduled maintenance, while the other is in Mauritania.

Ashikoto added that clearance had been granted by the ministry of fisheries while maritime and police clearances were also issued, allowing the vessels to sail away.

“It is therefore important to highlight that the matter of Saga and Geysir is different in that they were in port limits and subsequently left after being given all relevant approvals from the ministry of fisheries. There was no court order to arrest these fishing vessels, so Namport had no obligation to detain them.

Attach the assets

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) is demanding that the assets of Samherji be seized.

The party intends to 'summon' Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Paulus Noa and prosecutor-general Martha Imalwa to explain why Samherji's fishing vessels have not yet been attached.

“It is contemptuous for your highly respected institutions to assert that you will now pursue the assets of Samherji after it has been removed from the country right under your watch. We are very much disappointed and aggrieved that the senior members of our society like yourselves, who occupy very important strategic positions of trust, fail in executing your fiduciary duties,” PDM president McHenry Venaani said.

Noa and Imalwa have been given 15 working days to explain themselves in the National Assembly.


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