The Fishrot case has taken another significant turn, with High Court Acting Judge Moses Chinhengo denying the application for leave to appeal against his earlier decision not to recuse himself. 

Nigel van Wyk, one of the accused, had sought to appeal the decision, but Judge Chinhengo ruled that the application was not compliant with the Criminal Procedure Act and lacked reasonable prospects of success.

Chinhengo emphasised the importance of judges managing judicial processes impartially and highlighted that litigants do not have the prerogative to choose their judges. 

He says the appeal was based on a perceived bias arising from the judge's conduct rather than external factors. 

Judge Chinhengo also notes that there is no evidence of legal or factual error in his previous decision.

Meanwhile, Sacky Shanghala, another accused in the case, raised concerns about trial conditions.

He argues that the iron bars that demarcate the accused from the rest of the courtroom are a form of prejudicial symbolism that implies guilt and infringes on his dignity as an accused person. 

He also cited a lack of internet access during court proceedings, claiming that these conditions counter a fair trial.

Meanwhile, Bernhard Esau, another accused in the Fishrot case, has petitioned the court to order the state to cover his legal costs. 

Esau's legal practitioners withdrew from his defence due to non-payment, leaving him without representation. 

The former fisheries minister claims his charges are rooted in administrative decisions made during his tenure as a cabinet member.

Judge Chinengu acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding his continuation with the main case, describing his situation as being "under a cloud" that requires resolution.

The parties are scheduled to reconvene with Judge Chinengu on Thursday, May 30, for a status hearing and case management session. 

This session will proceed if the applicant does not petition Judge Chinengu's judgement to the Supreme Court.



Daniel Nadunya