'Taxa' wants fresh magistrate

The Fishrot accused doubts the impartiality of magistrates appointed during his co-accused Sacky Shanghala's tenure as justice minister, his lawyer has said.

21 July 2020 | Justice

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



Fishrot accused Pius Mwatelulo has launched a bail application in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, and has asked that magistrates who presided in other Fishrot bail matters not be considered to hear his application.

Mwatelulo is the sixth Fishrot accused to apply for bail, following in the footsteps of suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, former Investec manager Ricardo Gustavo, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi and an associate of former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, Nigel van Wyk.

All with the exception of Hatuikulipi and Esau have had their bids for freedom turned down, with magistrates ruling it would not be in the public interest to grant them bail.

Oral submissions will be presented in Esau and Hatuikulipi's bail application today.

“We are instructed to request that your office avails a presiding officer who has not made any previous decisions on the (Fishrot) matter,” Mwatelulo's lawyer Gilroy Kasper said in documents attached to his bail application.

Impartial judge sought

Mwatelulo also wants the court to consider appointing a presiding officer who has not watched the Al Jazeera documentary titled Anatomy of a Bribe, which aired last December.

“That documentary, which we unfortunately are unable to challenge, is highly prejudicial to our client and infringed upon our client's rights to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

“It is common cause that after the documentary there was a demonstration at the Windhoek Magistrate's Court, the purpose of which was to ensure that our clients were not given bail,” added Kasper.

He said that magistrates who may have watched the documentary would not be impartial regarding Mwatelulo's bail application.



Tainted

Mwatelulo also asked that magistrates who had been appointed during his co-accused Shanghala's tenure as justice minister not preside over his application. Mwatelulo doubts the impartiality of magistrates appointed during this time, his lawyer said. “The most important of which is the emotive matter of magistrates' remuneration and the general statutory exercise of ministerial powers by Mr Shanghala,” Kasper said. The lawyer further added that Mwatelulo had been subjected to trial and conviction by the media, saying it appeared that media outlets are in possession of confidential investigative material, which he said had not been disclosed to Mwatelulo or handed in at court.

“The environment is poisoned against our client enjoying a fair hearing, as guaranteed by the Namibian Constitution,” Kasper said.

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