Windhoek — Former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and his co-accused have set out to prove that their release from detention is of urgency despite the High Court ruling otherwise in December last year. Esau and his co-accused, who are now commonly known as the 'Fishrot Six', have filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, challenging the court order given by High Court Judge Kobus Miller.
Miller ordered that the matter be removed from the court roll, as Esau and his co-accused failed to convince the court why they deemed their matter urgent.
"The fact that the issue is one of liberty does not per se relief the applicants of the duty to make out a case of urgency as required by Rule 73," said Judge Miller in his judgement. The group approached the High Court in December on an urgent basis, challenging the legality surrounding their arrest and continued detention.
The group sought court orders that would set aside the warrants of arrests, the decision to prosecute them and decision to postpone their case to 20 February 2020. The group further wanted an order that will have them released from police custody with immediate effect.
In their documents filed in the Supreme Court, the six are seeking the nullification of the High Court orders, citing that the matter is still urgent.
"The approach taken by the learned Judge effectively allows for an invalid warrant to constitute the basis for the deprivation of liberty by the mere striking of the application from the roll," said the applicants.
In their application, the group explained that they continue to suffer as a result of their continued unlawful detention. In addition, their personal circumstances are deteriorating, and their family and financial positions have been negatively affected as a result.
The group has asked the Supreme Court to enrol and deal with their matter with the outmost speed and efficiency.
Esau was arrested alongside Sacky Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi and Pius 'Taxa' Mwatelulo, following reports that an Icelandic fishing company Samherji reportedly secured access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia by paying bribes of around N$150 million to politicians and businessmen between 2012 and 2018, according to the Fishrot Files of Wikileaks.
According to media reports, Samherji's CEO and biggest shareholder Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson authorised the bribe payments.
The six are currently facing charges ranging from money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, conspiracy to commit an offence and corruptly using office for gratification.
Esau and his co-accused are currently being detained at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
Local lawyers Appolos Shimakeleni and Gilroy Kasper are representing them.