Namibia: Fishrot Lawyer Claims Murder Attempt

LAWYER Marén de Klerk, who has been implicated in the Namibian fishing industry corruption scandal that led to the arrest of two former ministers and a number of co-accused, says he has received threats against his life.

"I have received several threats against my life and have reason to believe that powerful and well-connected individuals whose unlawful activities stand possibly to be exposed by what I have to say, have orchestrated at least one attempt on my life," De Klerk states in a sworn statement now filed at the Windhoek High Court.

De Klerk does not name the people he believes to have plotted against him, but says in his affidavit he is cooperating with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which is investigating alleged multimillion-dollar corruption with the allocation and use of Namibian fishing quotas.

He also says he has provided written statements to the ACC.

Having not returned to Namibia since leaving the country in January, De Klerk says he has reason to believe his life would be threatened if he returns to the country.

De Klerk is now putting up a fight against an attempt to have him removed as executor in the estate of businessman Aaron Mushimba and two other estates.

The affidavit in which he claims to have received threats against his life was filed at the High Court in a case in which the two trustees of the Mushimba Family Trust, to which the late Aaron Mushimba left half of the assets in his estate, and heirs in three estates of which De Klerk is the executor are trying to have him removed from that position.

The trustees of the Mushimba Family Trust, Johan Penderis and Philip Ellis, Mushimba's widow, Adolphine Mushimba, and heirs in two other deceased estates administered by De Klerk are asking the High Court to declare him undesirable to act as executor in the three estates and incapable of holding office as an executor for the rest of his life, and to appoint replacement executors to take over from De Klerk.

Opposing the application, De Klerk signed an answering affidavit at Paarl in South Africa's Western Cape province last week.

In his affidavit, he insists that despite his absence from Namibia over the past six months, he remains able to perform his duties as executor from South Africa, and denies that he has maladministered the Mushimba estate or the other two estates of which he is the executor.

With De Klerk also denying he is a fugitive from justice in Namibia, Penderis this week provided the court with a letter in which ACC director general Paulus Noa confirms De Klerk is implicated in the Fishrot corruption scandal being investigated by the ACC.

"He is suspected of having committed a variety of offences, in particular offences of corrupt practices, tax evasion and money laundering and racketeering," Noa states.

De Klerk's law firm, De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee Incorporated, and a company of which he is the sole director and shareholder, Celax Investments Number One, have been named in charges faced by former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau, ex-minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, and four co-accused in one of the two Fishrot corruption cases.

In charges faced by the two ex-ministers and their co-accused, the state is alleging that N$75,6 million in fishing quota usage fees, which companies in the Samherji fishing group were supposed to pay to the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia, was channelled through bank accounts of De Klerk's law firm and Celax Investments Number One, and diverted to the six men charged in the case, or to entities of their choice.

In his affidavit, De Klerk says that Penderis, who was a financial adviser to Mushimba, on numerous occasions informed him that he (Penderis) was the one who made the suggestion that Shanghala and his business partner and co-accused James Hatuikulipi should approach De Klerk "to assist them with the president's election campaign".

De Klerk further states: "To now suggest that I am a person of unsavoury character, dishonest or otherwise unsuited to act as an executor because of the fact that I have allegedly been implicated in the Fishrot scandal, while [Penderis] is the one who suggested and encouraged that I be approached, is disingenuous."

He also says the winding up of Mushimba's estate and one of the other estates he is handling is "for all intents and purposes almost completed", but that he has not been able to attend to the estates since February because his co-directors in his law firm have been denying him access to his files on the estates.

Whatever delay there has been in the estates over the past months has been caused by the conduct of Penderis, Ellis, and his former law firm co-directors, he claims.

According to Penderis, De Klerk has, because of his extended absence from Namibia, not been able to properly execute his duties as executor.

Penderis is also claiming there is evidence that De Klerk misled him about a transaction in which the Mushimba Trust sold its shareholding in a company owning 30 hectares of land at Okahandja.

Penderis says the sale agreement which De Klerk provided to him in 2019 showed the shareholding was sold for N$27 million, the buyer paid a deposit of N$50 000, and an agent involved in the transaction was to be paid a commission of N$2 million.

However, according to a copy of the sale agreement which the buyer provided him with, the shareholding was in fact sold for N$29 million, a deposit of N$100 000 was paid, and an agent's commission of N$4 million was to be paid.

Penderis is accusing De Klerk of having forged one of the pages of the original sale agreement to reflect the lower purchase price, deposit and agent's commission.

De Klerk is denying this accusation, and says in his affidavit the lower amounts on one of the pages of the agreement had been typing errors which were later corrected, with the corrected page signed by the buyer.

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