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Former fishermen on Fishrot-linked vessel yet to be compensated

The fishermen who used to work on the Heinaste fishing vessel, which has been implicated in the Fishrot fishing quota corruption scandal, are yet to be compensated.

On Wednesday, 20 out of the 23 fishermen met with lawyer Norman Tjombe in Windhoek, to devise a plan for obtaining compensation from their former employer, Esja Investment.
The fishermen’s work contracts were abruptly terminated on 31 December 2018.

They took their employer to the Labour Court and obtained an arbitration award of N$1,8 million against ArcticNam in 2021.

However, this money has not been paid to them.

Tjombe plans to ask the prosecutor general to release funds from the sale of the MV Heinaste, which was sold to Tunacor two years ago.

“We suspect that the prosecutor general has money attached and we want to establish whether that money belongs to ArcticNam. If so, can the workers be paid that money?” Tjombe asked.
In the interim, Tjombe said he is studying the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

He said he is also planning to initiate legal action against Esja Investment, the managing company.

Tjombe has been trying to reach the local directors of the company, Virgilio de Sousa, Wycliff Williams and Tjiunomuinjo Kandanga.

“They were not reachable,” he said.

Esja Investment is owned by Icelandic company Samherji through its subsidiary company in Cyprus, Esja Fishing, which also owned Esja Seafood in Namibia.

Esja Fishing held 49% of Arcticnam Fishing (Pty) Ltd, while three Namibian companies – Epango Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Sinco Fishing (Pty) Ltd and Yukor Fishing Joint Venture – owned 51% in equal shares.
Together they operated the vessel and were allegedly awarded large amounts of horse mackerel quota from 2012 until 2018.

The partners made significant profits, amounting to millions of dollars, from their activities since the Heinaste entered the Namibian fishing grounds.

Immanuel Iipinge, one of the fishermen, asked why the prosecutor general was more concerned over the sale of the vessel than the welfare of the people who worked on the vessel.
“That vessel did not operate itself. We caught the fish, yet we are out here suffering, while the vessel continues to catch fish. All the money being discussed in the Fishrot case came about because of us,” he said.

Iipinge further accused the workers’ former employers of being in hiding.

“Do they even bother to think about how we are surviving?” he said.

Neither Williams nor De Sousa responded to calls or messages sent to them via WhatsApp this week.