Eba Kandovazu

ONE of the men implicated in the Fishrot scandal, Otniel Shuudifonya, aged 35 years, has offered N$ 50 000 for bail, with the assistance of his friends.

Shuudifonya, who hails from Ohangwena region, says he has known James Hatuikulipi since 2005, and that the two are from the same region, Ohangwena. He tells the court that Hatuikulipi granted him a loan via his company Otuafika logistics cc in 2017 as startup capital for his company, Ndjako Investments, one of the companies accused of benefiting in the Fishrot scandal. According to Shuudifonya, he did not not know where the loan from Hatuikulipi was generated. Shuudifonya, who is still employed as a Deputy Director for Rural Services in the Otjozondjupa Regional Council, tells the court that his income has been suspended as of this July.

The loan agreement, he says, was signed off by his co-accused, Pius Mwatelula, a man he says he was introduced to by Hatuikulipi. Mwatelula is Hatuikulipi’s nephew. “Hatuikulipi is one of the most inspiring black businessmen from my area,” he says.

Shuudifonya explains that his net salary was N$31 000. A father of three, Shuudifonya adds that he owns a property in Otjiwarongo and Ondangwa and that he would not interfere with state witnesses although he personally knows them ‘very well’. He also rubbishes that the State has a strong case against him, adding that he was prepared to report himself twice a week at the Otjiwarongo police station, should he be granted bail. Further, he says he would stand trial in addition to surrendering his travel documents.

He also testifies that he has assets such as bulldozers and excavators in Angola, where he traveled frequently. The machinery, he says were bought with N$ 7.4 million, which he says he invested in Gwanyemba Investment Trust, a company Mike Nghipunya is Executive Chairman of. The two have known each other since university days, the court is informed. Shuudifonya denies Nghipunya having a secret interest in the company saying although the company registered its address under Nghipunya’s address, it does not mean he has an interest in it. “He has been my friend since 2006 so there is nothing wrong with that. The allegations hold no water” Shuudifonya says.

Shudifonya further denies knowing Sacky Shanghala, saying he only knew him as the Attorney General of Namibia. He explains to the court that Phillipus Mwapopi, also an accused, is his best friend. Shuudifonya says he would be pleading not guilty to the charges he faces, when the criminal trial commences.

Nghipunya’s testimony was concluded yesterday, after admitting that he offered consultancy work with companies that the state alleges benefited from Fishrot. He said he earned N$ 15 million in three years as a result of the consultancy work.

Political analyst, Ndumba Kamwanyah, says taking the stand could work against Nghipunya, pointing out that his lawyers might have had a strategy in place. “I am doubting that it was the right approach at this point in time. It looks like it backfired on him. From the public opinion, or from a layman’s option, it looks like he was somehow involved in some of these Fishrot activities. It portrays him in a bad light. The issue of him doing consultancy work while he was CEO of Fishcor and some contradictions in which he found himself under cross examination, I think he came out doomed than before because the more he was going deeper into the issues, the more he was incriminating himself,” Kamwanyah says.

Prominent Lawyer Norman Tjombe said that it is premature to comment on the ongoing bail application.

“The case is still ongoing. It would be inappropriate for me to comment while the matter is in court as I do not know what else will be coming out,”Tjombe said.

The bail application continues before Judge Shafimana Ueitele.