A downcast and emotionally subdued Tamson Hatuikulipi admitted before High Court Acting Judge David Munsu on Wednesday morning that prison was taking a toll on him emotionally, and he thus needed a freer environment to prepare his defence in the looming trial adequately.
Hatuikulipi’s bail application has thus begun in earnest, and this week the serial businessman brought new facts before the court.
Chief of it is that Namibia does not have an extradition treaty with Iceland and that there are three Samherji managers who have been listed as suspects in the case. All of whom are refusing to come to Namibia for trial.
Hatuikulipi says the ACC has relied on outside expert skills to carry out their investigations, and he too needs to do the same to defend himself if his trial is to be fair.
According to him, prison is thus not an ideal place to do so.
“The ACC has relied on several external consultants to assist them with their investigations. The foregoing means that if I have to defend myself properly, as I am entitled to in terms of my right to a fair trial, I must also be in a position to consult experts. This I am unable to do while in custody, my Lord.”
“At the correctional facility where I am detained, my Lord, there is no adequate facility for a proper preparation with my lawyer on 60 files with 80 000 pages, my Lord. Prison is not the right place to go through such volumes of documents, my Lord. Prison is a crushing environment, my Lord, emotionally and mentally and psychologically,” he said.
Fitty, as he is known, has so far been charged in two corruption cases, which includes the Namgomar matter in which he is said to have corruptly received payments of at least N$103.6 million to give a competitive advantage to Samherji so that it can secure horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
In his evidence in chief, Hatuikulipi testified that he was not guilty on all charges.
He also predicted that his trial would be lengthy, taking between 10 to 15 years to finalise.
He said it involves 342 witnesses, of which one witness may take between three weeks to a month to testify and be cross-examined.
His uncle, Titus Hatuikulipi, is one of them, and he said, if need be, he may have to not talk to him so as not to interfere.
“Given the nature of this disclosure and the charges that I am facing, I need finances to keep my legal representatives to defend myself properly. This I cannot do if I remain in custody. My incarceration cripples me from mobilising funds to keep my legal rep, my Lord,” he submitted.
He also said investigations have been completed, he now knows who the witnesses are, will not talk to them about the case and that he will not apply for a new passport.
Tamson said he has a list of properties dotted around the country to the value of N$40 million, while some of his vehicles are still being financed via the bank.
According to his testimony, he started off doing business in pool tables, selling video games, then started buying properties, got involved in the manganese export business and got subcontracted at the oil facility under Baby Civil and at Neckartal dam.
In 2021, Hatuikulipi is on record requesting the High Court to disregard the affidavit of Whistleblower and former Samherji executive Jóhannes Stefánsson.