Hatuikulipi suffers another blow in court

WINDHOEK: An application by one of the Fishrot suspects, former Investec Asset Management managing director, James Hatuikulipi, challenging a restraint order by the Prosecutor General, Martha Imalwa, was dismissed with costs in the High Court on Tuesday.

Judges Herman Oosthuizen and Collins Parker made the dismissal order and subsequently removed the matter from the court roll.

Hatuikulipi constitutionally challenged provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA).

Imalwa in November 2020 successfully applied for the order, freezing the bank accounts and properties of the suspects in the high ranking corruption scandal. According to Hatuikulipi, the restraint order violated his rights to be presumed innocent until found guilty. The presiding judges however found that since the restraint order proceeding were civil and not criminal in nature, the right to presumption of innocence in accordance with the Constitution did not apply. They found that Hatuikulipi’s rights were not violated as the restraint order is an interim order aimed at preserving the assets pending the conclusion of the criminal trial.

Prominent figures, including former justice minister Sakeus Shanghala and former fisheries minister, Bernardt Esau are also implicated in the saga.

Other suspects include former Fishcor Chief Executive Officer, Mike Nghipunya, former Investec Asset Management employee, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelula, Phillipus Mwapopi, Otneel Shuudifonya, Nigel van Wyk, Tamson Hatuikulipi and Maren de Klerk.

The trial was initially set down for 02 October 2023, but was postponed due to a number of factors, including the unavailability of funds to pay legal costs. As such, various legal aid applications are pending.

The two former ministers have since approached the Office of the Attorney General, requesting that the office allocates funds to pay for their prepared lawyers.

This, they argue, is because they were in the employment of the State at the time of their arrests.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency