PG sends team to SA for Fishrot ‘paymaster’ bail hearing

Marén de Klerk

A team of Namibian prosecutors from the Office of the Prosecutor General, Martha Imalwa, is currently in South Africa (SA) for the bail hearing of fugitive lawyer and alleged Fishrot paymaster Marén de Klerk.

Imalwa confirmed this to The Namibian yesterday.

She said the team left Namibia for SA on Tuesday.

De Klerk was due to appear in the Paarl Magistrate’s Court in the Western Cape yesterday, following his arrest in SA last Thursday – more than a year after a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Paarl Magistrate’s Court.

This came after the Namibian authorities requested his extradition.

De Klerk first appeared in court on Monday, and his case was postponed to yesterday. Imalwa, however, declined to provide contact details for the team of local prosecutors who left for SA.

She said they would assist their South African counterparts, since the Office of the Prosecutor General in Namibia has an interest in the case.

Imalwa said her office is in communication with the South African prosecuting authority and the Namibian Police in SA. “The case is appearing today [yesterday], and the court gave an order that if the state wants to oppose bail, they should do so,” she said.

“As prosecutor of Namibia, who has interest in the extradition of De Klerk, I have to make sure that South Africa gets the assistance from us, and that is why I dispatched a team to South Africa,” she said.

De Klerk is wanted by the Namibian government in connection with corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering.

He is accused of using his trust account for the distribution of ill-gotten gains to various Fishrot-linked accounts. When De Klerk appeared in court on Monday, his lawyer, Christie Viviers, described his arrest as unconstitutional and an infringement of his rights. At the time of De Klerk’s arrest, his phone and laptop were confiscated.

Viviers said De Klerk had been asked to work with the authorities by disclosing the security codes for his devices, which he did. After the defence objected that this was an infringement of De Klerk’s privacy, the state handed back the two devices. Viviers said De Klerk had willingly met with investigating officers from SA’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) when he was arrested.

De Klerk and another alleged victim of disbarred lawyer Ben van Heerden were scheduled to meet the NPA regarding charges brought against the lawyer, but De Klerk was arrested halfway through the meeting.

The defence asked the magistrate why De Klerk had been arrested on that specific day when the court had issued an arrest warrant last February already.

“He was in this country for more than a year and he was not arrested,” Viviers said.

He asked that De Klerk be released on bail, arguing that he has no intention to flee and could hand in his passports.

The magistrate had a difficult time understanding how De Klerk was not arrested earlier.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission has welcomed De Klerk’s arrest, with its director general, Paulus Noa telling the Mail & Guardian the entity was confident the arrest would result in “expeditious extradition proceedings”.

“Mr De Klerk, according to our investigation, has a case to answer, and must therefore join other accused in the Fishrot case,” Noa said.
– Additional reporting Mail & Guardian

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