Windhoek — South African prominent lawyers who were in the country to represent the 'Fishrot Six' were convicted on Friday in Windhoek Magistrate's Court for entering the country without work permits and ordered to pay a fine of N$10 000 each or consequently 18-months-imprisonment respectively.
Senior Counsel Mike Hellens, 65, and Dawie Joubert, 55, admitted to entering the country on 28 November on pretence of visiting when in fact they were here to work. Magistrate Venatius Alweendo consequently convicted them on their own admission while appearing in court late on Friday evening.
"I did not have a work permit although I was here to attend a court case. I informed the immigration officer that I was here for a visit but I did not mention that I was here for the case," explained Hellens after pleading guilty to the charges.
The two lawyers are charged with two counts; conducting business without a proper work permit and furnishing false or misleading information to the immigration officer.
While handing down the sentence, magistrate Alweendo informed the lawyers that they intentionally broke the law.
"You chose to disregard the law. You are lawyers and are therefore supposed to act within the ambit of the law. Being seasoned lawyers, you should have known better," said Alweendo.
Hellens and Joubert were arrested at court on Friday morning while they were preparing to represent former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, as well as the four businessmen who are all arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering. The group were in court for a formal bail hearing. The lawyers were represented by local Senior Advocate Essi Schimming-Chase while the state was represented by Cliff Litubezi, assisted by state prosecutor Rowan van Wyk.