Lüderitz community alleges fishing quota fraud

Niël Terblanché

The community of Lüderitz is up in arms over allegations of the blatant theft of millions of dollars raised by the sale of an annual fishing quota allocated to the Town Council that was supposed to be used for the development of the harbour town.

Ronnie Solomons, the Acting Secretary of the Lüderitz Entire Community Association (LECA), states in a letter addressed to the Anti-Corruption Commission as well as the Ombudsman of Namibia that current and former members of the town council have been redirecting the money to a trust fund and that the funds were then divided by amongst them for personal use.

According to Solomons, the theft of the funds has been going on since at least 2014 when the trust fund was set up by a former mayor of the harbour town, Suzan Ndjaleka. Other principles of the trust fund according to Solomons, are Aune Gebhardt, Brigitte Fredricks, Richard Kennedy, Jacobus Bester, Samuehl Fluksman, Victoria Wilson and Immanuel Nakomba.

The registration of the trust fund, according to Solomons, was done with a notarised document simply titled “Deed of Trust”. The trust fund does not have a name. Only a bank account number to which the funds are diverted.

Solomon states in his letter that the allocation of the fishing quota to the town council was started by former fisheries minister Abraham Iyambo as far back as 2008 to create revenue for the struggling local authority. The practice was continued under Bernard Esau and the current head of the ministry, Derek Klazen.

An addendum to the LECA letter shows that the current Executive Director of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Annely Haiphene, in November of 2021 allocated 300 tonnes hake freezer quota for the season that ended at the end of September 2022.

According to the letter, the quota allocated in 2021 created revenue of N$3.4 million for the town council, but that money was diverted to the trust fund before it could be used for the development of the town.

The amount of money and the fact that the town council is supposed to receive 300 tonnes of freezer hake until 2026 was confirmed during a meeting between members of LECA and the current mayor of Lüderitz, Ben McKay at the end of January this year.

According to the LECA letter, the principles of the trust fund were able to hide its existence for years because the town council consisted mostly of members of the SWAPO Party.

“Ever since the local authority elections of 2020 the Lüderitz Town Council has consisted of 2 members of the Independent Patriots for Change, one member of the Popular Democratic Movement, one member of the Landless People’s Movement and three members of the SWAPO Party. It is very clear that the investigation launched by LECA has created some tension among the current members of the town council,” the letter reads.

In the letter, LECA requests the ACC and the Ombudsman to assist the community of Lüderitz by urgently investigating the matter.

“We are 100 precent sure that the money generated from harvesting the allocated quota has since its inception never benefitted the town council or the community of Lüderitz,” the letter concludes.

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