By: Justicia Shipena
Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa, says ‘We are waiting for him’ regarding Fishrot accused fugitive lawyer Maren de Klerk, who was recently arrested in South Africa.
The 55-year-old is wanted in Namibia for racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering in the Fishrot fraud and corruption case.
Making his court appearance in Paarl Magistrate Court in South Africa, covered his face, after the matter was postponed to last Friday following his Thursday arrest by the Hawks and Interpol.
During his arrest, a cellphone and laptop were confiscated for further investigation.
The court granted Namibian prosecutors until tomorrow to gather their defence to oppose De Klerk’s release.
Speaking on Namibia’s extradition request, Imalwa stated that Namibia has requested extradition from South Africa since 2020.
She insisted that South Africa already has the extradition request from Namibia and only needs to execute it.
“And for all those years, the indictment has not been executed because the South African authorities have been trying to locate him until then last week when he was apprehended,” she said.
The request for de Klerk’s extradition from Namibia to face trial in the continuing Fishrot corruption case was made public ten months ago by South Africa.
According to a statement from the South African Ministry of Justice, De Klerk’s extradition was requested on 15 October 2021.
De Klerk, a lawyer by profession, is charged with transferring money from his trust account to various accounts of the defendants in the Fishrot corruption case.
The National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa and Interpol were given the extradition request to execute.
Interpol had also applied for a warrant of arrest and De Klerk’s current whereabouts were being tracked by the investigating officer.
The Paarl Magistrate’s Court authorised an arrest warrant and an extradition notice in 2022.
Imalwa told The Villager that De Klerk was part and parcel of an indictment which she compiled relating to the Fishrot case.
“The reason why his name does not appear at the moment on it is because he remains a fugitive. He is not in Namibia, and we cannot try a person in absentia, that is why his name was removed,” she said.
If De Klerk is extradited before the trial begins in October, according to the prosecutor general, he must be included in the same indictment.
However, she did add that the charges that were contained in the extradition still stand.
“You cannot add any charges, that is the rule of the law. You have to
prosecute a person on the same charges as you formulated when you put in your request for extradition.”
De Klerk reportedly said he wasn’t a wanted man last year, according to reports.
He claimed he was hiding out because he accused well-known politicians of participating in Fishrot of wrongdoing.
De Klerk offered to give a remote testimony in the Fishrot case, but the Namibian authorities rejected his request.
De Klerk claims that his law company, De Klerk, Horn & Coetzee, informed the Financial Intelligence Centre of the Fishrot problem in December 2019.
There was N$4 million remaining in the trust account when his law company notified the Financial Intelligence Centre of the situation. De Klerk asserts that on 16 January 2020, he went to the ACC unrepresented and felt after a few minutes that he was being treated like the Fishrot mastermind.
After being questioned by the Anti-Corruption Commission for his role in the payment of more than N$80 million to key individuals in the Fishrot case, De Klerk left Namibia in January 2020.