I want to be free like you guys – Shanghala

FORMER Cabinet minister and minister of justice Sacky Shanghala urged the Windhoek High Court at the Windhoek Correctional Facility to release him from custody as the Fishrot trial kicked off on Tuesday.

“I want to be free like you guys,” he said.

Shanghala and most of his co-accused have been in custody since their arrest on 27 November 2019.

One of his co-accused, James Hatuikulipi, said he also wants to be free.

“I would like to be released. I feel I have served my sentence,” he said.

Shanghala told acting judge Moses Chinhengo that, if released from detention, it would allow him and his co-accused time to secure funds or explore other legal avenues to ensure a fair trial.

Shanghala and three of his co-accused in the Fishrot case are unable to plead to the charges they face, as they lack legal representation.

The former justice minister says his economic status has brought about strain.

Shanghala was previously represented by South African lawyer Vas Soni, who charged him N$60 000 per court date.

He told the court that proceedings in the current circumstances would be unfair and unjust, potentially leading to an inadequate defence.

He proposed that the Fishrot trial should start in six to eight months to give him time to study the case.

Shanghala said he needed to peruse 140 000 pages to prepare for the case.

Should the case commence, it would be a mockery of justice because it is complicated, he said.

“It will be unfair and unjust, because I’ve indicated to judge this is a complicated case. And even a lawyer requires legal representation. In fact, they say you are a fool to have yourself as a lawyer,” he said.

Shanghala and another accused, former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau, last month pleaded with ombudsman Basilius Dyakugha to intervene on their behalf.

Dyakugha had visited the Windhoek Correctional Facility to hear the complaints of trial-awaiting inmates, as well as those in the clinic’s wards.

Shanghala had complained to Dyakugha about their four years in jail with no bail, and insisted on chairs and tables to be able to study their case documents.

“Somebody who killed four to five people and has been convicted, given say 15 years, can have access to a computer and study.

“But I was apparently presumed innocent; I cannot even get bail,” Shanghala had told Dyakugha.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!