It has emerged that the State prosecution is yet to finalise its list of witnesses to be used in the upcoming Fishrot trial.
The development was revealed in the High Court on Thursday when the defence raised concern over continued delays cropping up with the prosecution’s witness list.
The hearing of the case at the High Court has now been scheduled for 12 July, while the pre-trial has been postponed until 17 June to allow the suspects’ legal defence to study the affidavit provided to them by the Office of the Prosecutor General, and also to allow a possible opposition to the joinder of the Fishcor and Nengomar cases.
Judge Christie Liebenberg ordered that the accused, who include former Fisheries Minister, Bernard Esau; former Justice Minister, Sacky Shangala; former Fishcor Chariman, James Hatuikulipi; former Fishcor CEO, Mike Nghipunya, Tamson Hatuikulip, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya, Philipus Mwapopi, be remanded in custody until then.
“We want a list of witnesses. We have not received this from the state to prepare for the trial. We do not know who we can speak to and who we cannot speak to,” Richard Metcalfe representing Esau and his son in law, Tamson Hatuikulipi. Maren De Klerk, the alleged paymaster in the Fishrot saga, had stated in a leaked affidavit to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) that he would be willing to serve as a state witness, should he be offered immunity from prosecution. Fishrot whistle-blower, Johannes Stefansson, had also offered himself as a state witness. It remains unclear if the state intends to use either of them as witnesses.
State Prosecutor, Ed Marondedze, argued that the delay in providing the case was to allow for the joinder case to be completed. Judge Liebenberg, however, ordered that because the witnesses for the two cases are most likely to be the same, the list of witnesses should be provided to the defence before 30 May.
Metcalfe who stated that he would not oppose the joining of the two cases, however, argued that the case has been delayed for too long. “We want to get the trial as soon as possible. Too many delays and the accused are incarcerated.”
Judge Liebenberg however stated that the enormity of both cases cannot be ignored and stated that they would require time.
Meanwhile, Trevor Brockerhoff, who represents former Investec Asset Management Namibia Client Director, Ricardo Gustavo, however argued that the case was not ready to go to trial.“The case is still not ready. It was harshly rushed from the magistrate to the High Court.”
The Fishrot accused are alleged to have used state funds to launder millions from the state owned Fishcor.