De Klerk extradition postponed to February

Marén de Klerk

The extradition proceedings for fugitive lawyer Marén de Klerk sought by the Namibian authorities have been postponed to next month, Anti-Corruption Commission director general Paulus Noa told The Namibian yesterday.

This marks the second delay in the case, with De Klerk’s initial court date set for September last year being pushed back to 15 to 16 January 2024.

Noa said the latest adjournment was reportedly requested by the presiding magistrate in Cape Town, South Africa, last week.

“The information I was provided with is that the magistrate who was supposed to preside over the matter requested for the postponement and I understand the proceedings are likely to start during February,” Noa said.

“The extradition matter is still on. It was only postponed at the decision of the magistrate himself. Surely, in February it will be on,” Noa said, adding that the Namibian prosecuting team is well prepared.

De Klerk has been sought by Namibian authorities since 2021 for his alleged role as paymaster in the multimillion-dollar Fishrot corruption case.

Namibian authorities have been pursuing his extradition ever since, seeking his return to face trial.

In June last year, De Klerk was arrested by Interpol while in South Africa and was later granted bail of N$50 000 in the Paarl Magistrate’s Court.

His arrest took place more than a year after the Paarl Magistrate’s Court issued a warrant for De Klerk’s arrest on 1 February 2022.

During De Klerk’s testimony for bail, he told the Paarl Magistrate’s Court that he feared for his life and would not receive a fair trial should he be extradited to Namibia.

He recounted a chilling incident from 2020 where he allegedly escaped “kidnapping or murder” by unidentified men at a Cape Town hospital.

His bail conditions required him to report to the police and surrender his passport, while his movements were restricted before 07h00 and after 20h00 daily.

South African weekly Mail & Guardian reported last year that De Klerk maintained his innocence in the court, saying he unwittingly participated in the corruption undertaken by his co-accused.

The Fishrot accused include Namibia’s former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Fishcor chairperson James Hatuikulipi and former Fishcor chief executive Mike Nghipunya.

While in South Africa, De Klerk allegedly changed his name from Marén to Michael in January last year.

The South African prosecuting authority argued that De Klerk changed his name to evade justice. However, De Klerk denied this.

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