THE future of the Law Society of Namibia as a self regulating body of the law fraternity in the country is hanging in the balance.
More than four months after the inner workings of the Fishrot bribery scandal was brutally forced into the public domain and the arrest of at least ten people which includes the former minister of justice and Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, one of the main role players and high profile attorney, Sisa Namandje and his law firm Sisa Namandje & Co Inc, is still doing everything possible to prevent his financial records from being scrutinised.
As a regulating body the LSN took it upon themselves to investigate Namandje’s possible involvement in receiving and laundering bribe money paid by the multinational fishing company Samherji based in Iceland and its affiliates based in other countries. After a string of official letters that were sent back and forth between the LSN and the office of Sisa Namandje & Co Inc the regulating body had no choice but to approach the High Court of Namibia with an application to obtain a search and seizure warrant to gain access to financial records.
Two other law firms that were also implicated in the matter through the use of their trust accounts and who apparently did business with the various fishing companies that were used as vessels to receive and make payments from the Icelanders threw their books open at the first request from the LSN.
The LSN filed an application in which the director of the regulating body Margaretha Steinmann states that it is duty bound to act
“In view of Mr. Namandje’s refusal to cooperate with the Law Society, applying for a warrant in chambers is the only option left to the Law Society,” the sworn affidavit of the regulating body reads.
The affidavit goes on to state that the Fishrot scandal had continues to have a deeply negative impact on the reputation of the legal profession as whole. The law firm’s continued refusal further has the potential of eroding the public’s faith in the legal profession and by extension the administration of justice
“Failure on the art of the Law Society to take decisive action will no doubt be perceived as the Law Society protecting its own over its duty to protect the public from errant legal practitioners. I fear that without the honourable Judge’s intervention. This may spell the end of the Law Society’ ability to pursue its objectives which include to maintain and enhance the standards of conduct and integrity of all members of the legal profession and to define and enforce correct and uniform practice and discipline among its members. The Law society’s power to do anything that is necessary or conducive to the attainment of its objectives would be rendered nugatory.”
Since the application for the search and seizure warrant was filed the judge in the matter has decided not grant the Law Society’s application without Namandje having a chance to state his side of the story.
Namandje as a consequence filed an answer to oppose the Law Society’s application despite claiming in the past that he has nothing to hide and that he will not oppose an investigation.
The high profile attorney has in the past maintained that he is not opposed to an investigation into his practice.
The matter will be heard in the judge’s chambers on 7 May this year.