Fishrot charges sound serious but the case is not strong-Shuudifonya

Eba Kandovazu

Fishrot suspect Otniel Shuudifonya (35), this afternoon told the court that although the racketeering, conspiracy, fraud, theft and money laundering charges he faces “sound” serious”, the State does not have a strong case against him.

Shuudifonya remarks during cross examination by State advocate, Cliff Lutibezi, who put the charges to the suspect. Shuudifonya is accused of receiving N$10.3 million from Fishcor. The money, according to his statement to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was approved by his friend, former Fishcor Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mike Nghipunya, and was meant for a fish feed project.

“I do not know if there is anything I have done wrong. There was no wrong doing in this business. Am I being prosecuted because I know these two people? The state’s case is not strong,”Shuudifonya feels telling the court today that some of the money is still invested.

“I have the money” he says at the start of cross-examination. He also explains to the court that he had invested some of the money in Angola, where he says he bought machinery for a mining project his company was venturing into. He vehemently denies that the money he received was from fishing quotas.

He informs that in March 2017 he received a N$3.8 million loan from James Hatuikulipi’s company, Otuafika logistics cc. By August 2018, the money was repaid in full, with interest.

The State’s case is that Shuudifonya received money linked to fishing quotas and passed it to Hatuikulipi and Nghipunya.

“No. That is not correct. The funds I have, have nothing to do with quotas. I have no role to play in quotas. That was my repayment to Hatuikulipi for the loan he gave me. My companies are not linked to quotas,” he says.

He also testifies that Hatuikulipi had informed him that he was organising the Swapo Party campaign and therefore needed money. In 2017, Hatuikulipi borrowed N$2 million, he told the court.

Questioned on his disappearance at the time a warrant of arrest was issued against him, Shuudifonya denies that he “disappeared”, for a week, as Litibezi put to him, saying that he was in the North at the village.

“I was in sick leave. I got sick while I was in the North. I then called my lawyer and told him that I would hand myself over to the ACC, that they should not look for me. I was just pleading with them to not waste resources, that I would hand myself over,” he says.

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