Fishrot defence lawyer accuses ACC witness of painting predetermined outcome

Eba Kandovazu

THE cross examination of Anti-Corruption Commission lead investigator Andreas Kanyangela in the bail application of Fishrot suspects resumed today, with South African Advocate Vas Soni, who represents Former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala saying that his client was merely reading up the law in Dubai.

Soni was responding to allegations last year that Shanghala was researching extradition agreements with Dubai, on his mobile phone. The prosecution argued that the accused searches about Dubai, shows that Shanghala is a flight risk and that he intends to flee to Dubai if granted bail. Soni however posited that Shangala as a lawyer by profession was simply researching laws in Dubai. Shanghala is seeking bail alongside his best friend, former Investec Asset Management head, who was also the former Board chairman of Fishcor. James Hatuikulipi, Pius Mwatelula, Phillipus Mwapopi, Otneel Shuudifonya, and former Fishcor Chief Executive Officer Mike Nghipunya.

Despite the ACC saying that Nghipunya’s appointment was irregular, in that the CEO position wasn’t advertised, Soni today adamantly argued that no law requires that the position be advertised, adding that the appointment is solely at the discretion of the board members.

“It is government procedure that if anyone is to be appointed in a critical position such as CEO, that it ought to be advertised. That is the practice. I am not sure it is a stately provision,” Kamyangela responded, adding that the former Fishcor board members at the time of Nghipunya’s appointment had provided statements to the anti graft body saying that the appointment was not done procedurally.

A visibly irritated Soni has since accused Kanyangela of not being “an appropriate” witness, that he is accusing his clients of conspiracies by painting a “pre-determined” picture. Soni also represents Hatuikulipi and Mwatelulo.

He at some point bashed the arrest of South African senior counsels, Mike Hellens and Dawie Joubert in 2019. The duo represented Hatuikulipi and Shanghala at their first court appearance. The two were arrested for contravening the Immigration Control Act, for entering Namibia without no a work permit. Soni, who is also from South Africa today put it to Kanyangela that the presence of the two in Namibia at the time was lawful as they had sought permission from Chief Justice Peter Shivute.

“The suspects have a constitutional right to be represented by any lawyer of their choice,” Soni argued.

Just recently, it was reported that Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa is seeking the assistance of prominent South African lawyer, Wim Trengove to spearhead the state’s appeal against Ricardo Gustavo’s bail. Trengove is known for leading the prosecution of Jacob Zuma and defending Cyril Ramaphosa in his dispute with the public protector.

The idea to bring in Trengove was not well received by various Namibian legal professionals, saying it undermines Namibia’s lawyers and their capabilities.

“For how long will we be importing South African lawyers to argue our cases? Which Namibian lawyer has ever been invited to argue a matter in South African courts,” Kadhila Amoomo, a Windhoek based lawyer questioned.

In 2020, Former Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who has since been convicted of corruption for changing the mass housing list to benefit her relative, sought the legal services of another prominent South African lawyer Barry Roux to represent her in her unsuccessful appeal against her conviction.

Roux is known for representing South Africa’s paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Roux was also roped into the country to represent Laurentius Julius, a businessman accused, alongside Jack Huang, who faces charges relating to N$3.5 billion tax evasion.

The fishrot bail application will continue tomorrow morning. Kanyangela is yet to read the affidavits of Hatuikulipi and Mwatelulo

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