Fishrot accused Nigel Van Wyk will hear tomorrow if Judge Moses Chinhengo will recuse himself from presiding over the largest corruption scandal Namibia has seen.

Van Wyk, through his lawyer Mbanga Siyumunji, applied for the recusal of Chinhengo, citing bias and fear of not receiving a fair trial.

Since the Fishrot matter broke in 2019, it has continued to face hurdles.

The trial has been marred by numerous interlocutory applications, failed bail applications, and lengthy postponements.   

Judge Moses Chinhengo was appointed last year; his assignment was to preside over this matter, one that has garnered immense public attention and media interest.

He kicked off the trial in late November last year, and soon after the commencement of the trial followed. 

The defendants, however, wanted yet another postponement, and this time, the reason for the postponement request was to allow them time to sort out their legal affairs and secure legal representation.

But Judge Chinhengo would not entertain their applications.

The Judge decided to proceed with the trial and started with the plea process, entering a not-guilty plea for accused persons who were without legal representation.

It was then that he was slapped with a recusal application by Van Wyk, and this application brought the plea process to a halt.

But legal minds who spoke on the nbc's Wheels of Justice explained that for an accused person to bring forward a recusal application, such an applicant must believe that the Judge will not be reasonable.

"When somebody brings you an application for recusal, you must make sure that, from a reasonable man's perspective, any other person or layman can do that. The second reason is that the reasons for the Judge to recuse himself must also be reasonable," said lawyer Immanuel Thomas.

Should, in this event, Judge Chinhengo agree with his recusal application, a new Judge will be appointed to the matter, but that does not necessarily mean that the matter will start afresh and may continue where Chinhengo left off.

But what happens if Chinhengo decides to stay?

Lawyer Thomas Andima explains that "you appeal the set decision to the Supreme Court, or then the matter can be taken on review to determine if there were any flaws in the process coming to the conclusion or if there were other factors that were omitted from that process."

Do the reasons brought forward by Van Wyk and his legal team have sufficient grounds for a recusal?

"Not each and every event forms the basis for a recusal; a judge can take a decision, and you can take that decision on review or appeal just that decision; it does not mean that if a certain decision is taken, a judge has to recuse himself or herself."

During the proceedings of the recusal application, none of Van Wyk's co-accused supported him in his bid to remove Chinhengo.

But it was former Fisheries Minister Sacky Shanghala who raised issues with Chinhengo's appointment, saying that he had written to President Nangolo Mbumba, raising concerns about the age, nationality, and constitutionality of Chinhenego's appointment.

Shanghala also informed the court that he would file formal applications with the High Court.



Emil Xamro Seibeb