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Africa News of Thursday, 3 June 2021

Source: allafrica.com

South Africa confirms De Klerk's warrant of arrest from Namibia

Marén de Klerk is a Lawyer accused of being a paymaster in the Fishrot scandal Marén de Klerk is a Lawyer accused of being a paymaster in the Fishrot scandal

South Africa's justice ministry has confirmed that it has received a request from the Namibian Government to arrest Marén de Klerk, a lawyer who is accused of being a paymaster in the Fishrot scandal.

These new developments come at a time when the justice ministry also confirmed that it has finalised diplomatic paperwork to extradite three Iclendic business executives to face Fishrot charges.

Prosecutor general, Martha Imalwa, told The Namibian last week that Namibia will not fail in its pursuit for justice.

"The country, in this case Iceland, will indicate to us the option which they will take, then we proceed. But we are not yet there. Namibia also has trials for those foreigners. If they run, we will deal with them," Imalwa said.

Namibia's justice ministry spokesperson Simon Idipo, told The Namibian on Thursday, June 2 last week that "the request to South Africa for De Klerk's extradition has been dispatched and the South African authorities have confirmed receipt of the request".

The ministry says the two countries are "cooperating closely" on the matter, and "believes the request for extradition will be executed promptly".

"The Namibian authorities are cooperating with at least 13 countries in the fishing corruption case with great success in many of the requests for mutual legal assistance," Idipo said.

South African ministry of justice spokesperson Chrispin Phiri confirmed the extradition request for De Klerk.

"We can confirm that a warrant of arrest was issued by the Namibian government. This was accompanied by an extradition request dated 19 May 2021."

"The department has duly processed it with law enforcement agencies who will in turn effect the request accordingly," Phiri said.

When asked when the process was expected to be finalised, Phiri said: "Unfortunately due to the nature of extraditions and the various law enforcement agencies involved, it is not possible to give a time frame."

Questions sent to both the Icelandic justice minister and prosecutor general went unanswered.

The process of extradition involves an arrest, an appearance before a judge or magistrate, and then a decision by the government whether to surrender the accused person.

De Klerk was the alleged paymaster in the Fishrot scheme. He was mostly helped by James Hatuikulipi who instructed the transfer from De Klerk's law firm to president Hage Geingob's Swapo political campaigns and other expenses. Hatuikulipi was at the time the Investec Asset Management Namibia (now known as Ninety One) managing director.

De Klerk - the one-time lawyer of former justice minister Sacky Shanghala - left Namibia for South Africa in January 2020, and has not returned.

This was three months after Shanghala, his fellow former minister Bernhard Esau and other accused were arrested in connection with the corruption scheme.

One of the tentacles of the Fishcor scandal included alleged money laundering from Namibia's state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).

Iceland extraditions

Last month, deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze informed the Windhoek High Court that the state will apply for the Icelandic executives' extradition.

The trio, Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Adalsteinn Helgason, worked for Samherji, an Iclendic seafood company that is accused of bribing Namibian politicians and their cronies in transactions worth more than N$3 billion to access fishing quotas.

The executives co-managed Samherji's companies in Namibia. Árnason is charged for his work for Esja Holding and Mermaria Seafood Namibia, while Júlíusson and Helgason were the financial directors for Saga Seafood, Esja Investment and Heinaste Investments.

"The request for the extradition of the Icelandic accused persons has been finalised and will be under way soon via diplomatic channels, which is the required procedure, as there is no agreement for extradition between Namibia and Iceland," Idipo said last week.

This is the second request to extradite Icelandic officials by Namibian authorities. Namibian Sun reported yesterday that the first request was rejected two months ago.

The justice ministry believes that Iceland will have to abide by international law and prosecute them based on evidence provided by the Namibian authorities if diplomatic efforts to hand over the three executives fail.

Idipo said Namibian authorities based the request on United Nations (UN) treaties - the UN Convention Against Corruption and the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.

"Icelandic law dictates that the country may not extradite its own citizens, but international law dictates that if a country is unwilling or unable to extradite, then it must prosecute the accused based on the evidence provided. Namibia is likewise cooperating closely with the Icelandic authorities on the matter," Idipo said.

A pre-trial conference of the case took place last month. The date for the main trial is not yet set.

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