Fishrot lawyer warns against international witnesses not appearing . . . Fears client may face longer incarceration

Eba Kandovazu

THE lawyer representing Fishrot suspect, Ricardo Gustavo, who is applying for bail for N$ 250 000, says the High Court has no power to compel whistleblower Johannes Steffanson to travel to Namibia and testify in the matter.

Trevor Brockerhoff, in his closing remarks for the bail application indicates that the trial could drag on for years, to the prejudice of his client if he continues to be in jail. He explains that there is no certainty that witnesses from Dubai, Iceland and Angola would stick to their deal with the State to testify. He also points out that the accused, Maren de Klerk, still hasn’t been extradited from South Africa to stand trial.

“These issues could derail us. Whether Steffanson will come and testify is fully at his discretion. The court isn’t compelled to have him testify. Other witnesses from the Middle East are also not compelable,”he says.

Brockerhoff also argues that the continued incarceration of his client could result in him not having the privilege to afford his preferred lawyer in the long run, due to financial constraints. “We also assert that where this court does not give bail to the applicant, apart from all other infringements, he would not be in a position to get the lawyer or his choice,” Brockerhoff tells the court.

“Let it be realistic. Even if he gets bail, what possible venture can he engage in to earn money?,” Presiding Judge Herman Oosthuizen questions.

Gustavo has since told the court that he has been offered an employment opportunity by a Namibian company, saying he would be required to work from his Finkenstein estate home. With this job, Gustavo maintains he would be able to afford lawyers. Due to the sensitivity of the Fishrot case, Gustavo says he cannot disclose the details of his potential employer until he is granted bail. He also adds that the company head hunted him during the time he was employed by Investec Asset Management.

He also testifies that the company showed their interest again some four months ago, whilst he is incarcerated. Judge Oosthuizen has in the meantime reserved judgement for 15 December. Cliff Lutibezi represents the state.

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