BERNARD Esau, a former Minister of Fisheries, confessed that the only reason he lied, stating that he did not nominate any quota beneficiaries during his previous bail application, was to be released from prison. He wanted to return home and prepare for his trial.
He made these comments during his ongoing bail application in response to his old affidavit provided by the state. The affidavit, which he submitted in his previous bail application, contained material that contradicts his current testimony.
The affidavit in question reads as follows: “Once gazetted, any fishing company in Angola could have been designated to receive quotas in terms of Section 35(2) of the Marine Resources Act. At no stage did I nominate an entity in Angola to receive such quotas. This was purely at the discretion of the Republic of Angola and their designated representatives.”
“If you compare this with what is disclosed, it is clear that at the time I signed this affidavit, the disclosure was not available. Considering that the bail is urgent, I had to sign this affidavit because I wanted to be out of custody,” Esau testified.
During cross-examination, the former Fisheries Minister admitted that he nominated Namgomar Pescas SA, an Angolan entity, to receive fishing quotas based on recommendations from those he referred to as the ‘Ayatollahs,’ referring to the office of the Permanent Secretary, which is now known as the office of the Executive Director.
“The allocations are not done by the minister. They are recommended to the minister through internal memos for acceptance. With regards to approving quotas, I cannot recall signing any approval of memos,” he testified.
According to the state, Esau wrote a letter to the Fisheries Minister in Angola, informing the minister about the fishing quotas he approved for Namgomar Pescas SA. The state further claimed that the letter in question was written in the first person.
In his defense, Esau said that he was advised by his principal advisor to write the letter in question. He also asserted that everything he did regarding the nomination of quota beneficiaries was based on the advice of his principal advisor.
The state questioned whether he was aware that the entity he nominated for fishing quotas is a non-existent company in Angola.
In response, Esau claimed that he never had the power to conduct due diligence in Angola and that it was the responsibility of the Angolan government to do so. He added that he could not request any verification documents from Angola regarding the establishment of such a firm, as he trusted his team and relied on the information they provided.
Esau’s bail application is currently being heard in Namibia’s High Court, alongside Sacky Shanghala’s former assistant, Nigel Van Wyk. The two men are members of a group involved in Namibia’s fishing corruption scandal. They have been detained since their arrest in 2019.