Hamunyela downplays worries expressed by Fishrot suspects’ families

WINDHOEK: The Commissioner General of the Namibian Correctional Services (NCS), Raphael Hamunyela, on Monday dismissed concerns raised by families of the Fishrot accused that their lives are in danger at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

This follows a peaceful demonstration by a small number of the relatives of the Fishrot accused at the entrance of the facility, accusing the NCS authorities of working with unknown forces to hurt James Hatuikulipi and five other co-accused.

His sister, Lina Hatuikulipi, told Nampa their action was prompted by a social media post by activist Michael Amushelelo concerning an alleged plot to move her brother and others to the general population section.

‘We heard that our brothers are going to be divided. Since 2020, all the Fishrot accused were kept together, but suddenly we heard some are being protected while some will be released into the general population section. That place is where dangerous criminals who are awaiting trial are kept. We are now worried about why ou
r brothers are moved to that section. The problem is that we have lost faith in our justice system. Our brothers are in their hands but they cannot protect them,’ said Lina who was holding a placard written in part ‘Rights to life of all Fishrot accused.’

Theopolina Hatuikulipi, the aunt to Tamson and James Hatuikulipi, expressed her concern, saying her nephews, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau, have been kept behind bars without trial for almost five years.

Reading out a statement, Naphtali Hatuikulipi claimed that the planned move was a plot to have the Fishrot killed ‘as the only way to silence them permanently about the Fishrot corruption scandal,’ saying that the accused were used as conduits by high-ranking politicians who have not yet been mentioned in court or imprisoned.

In response, Hamunyela told Nampa that NCS moving inmates from one unit to another is the administrative mandate of the correctional services.

very person has the right to allege anything, but that is not part of our functions. We have the mandate to deliver, and we make sure we deliver that mandate as required by the Constitution. It is their right to demonstrate, but it has nothing to do with our actions. Those allegations are not part of our work even,’ Hamunyela said.

After their arrest in 2020, the suspects in the Fishrot scandal have been fighting in court to be granted bail, but their attempts have been unsuccessful.

They are accused of being part of a conspiracy that saw Namibia swindled of billions of dollars in potential revenue from the fishing industry.

Source: Namibia Press Agency