Ex-cabinet members Bernhard Esau and Sacky Shanghala and their co-accused in the Fishrot corruption cases are due to make their next court appearance near the end of May, following the postponement of their matters in their absence on Thursday.
The two cases in which the two former ministers and five co-accused are facing charges over alleged corruption in Namibia's fishing industry were postponed to 29 May in the Windhoek Magistrate's court on Thursday.
Due to the national state of emergency and lockdown in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Esau, Shanghala and the other accused were not present in court when the matters were postponed.
All but one of the accused, former National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) chief executive officer Mike Nghipunya, have been in custody for almost five months, following their arrest near the end of November last year. Nghipunya has been detained for two months, since his arrest in February.
Esau, who is an ex-minister of fisheries and marine resources, Shanghala, who was Namibia's minister of justice until November last year, James Hatuikulipi, who is a former managing director of Investec Asset Management in Namibia, a former senior employee of Investec in Namibia, Ricardo Gustavo, and Esau's son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi are charged with counts of fraud, tax evasion, conspiring to commit an offence under the Anti-Corruption Act, and bribery alleged to involve payments of more than N$103 million in connection with allegations that they had been involved in the crooked allocation of horse mackerel quotas to an Icelandic-owned fishing company between 2014 and 2019.
The five men and a sixth accused, Pius Mwatelulo, are also charged with money laundering in connection with the alleged use of false invoices and transfer of money between bank accounts, claimed to have been engineered to conceal the origin of the funds.
In the second case,in which former Fishcor CEO Nghipunya, Esau, Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi and Mwatelulo are charged, the state is alleging that the six accused were involved in fraud, corruption and money laundering in which some N$75 million that was supposed to be paid to Fishcor was diverted to themselves or corporate entities of their choice.
The seven accused have all remained in custody since their arrest.