Current track



Court frees funds to pay Esau’s legal fees

Written by on July 11, 2024

Former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau has disclosed his assets as required by the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, a judge concluded yesterday in a decision on Esau’s application to get access to funds to pay for his legal representation in the Fishrot case.

Judge Beatrix de Jager made the finding in a judgement in which she ordered that a total amount of about N$3,4 million should be released from Esau’s assets, which have been placed under a restraint order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

De Jager ordered that about N$1,2 million should be released from Esau’s restrained assets to pay his current legal expenses.

She also ordered that about N$2,2 million should be released from his assets, which have been placed under the control of curators, to cover his expected future legal expenses.

The funds should be paid into a trust account of the law firm Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys, De Jager ordered.

The law firm has been representing Esau in the Fishrot case about the alleged corrupt use of Namibian fishing quotas approved by Esau during his tenure as fisheries minister.

The amounts De Jager ordered to be released could be lower if the legal fees that Esau has to pay are assessed to be less than what has been stated by his lawyers, the court’s order says.

Esau (66) informed the court in a sworn statement that he has an outstanding bill of about N$1,2 million for legal services provided by Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys.

In addition to that, defence lawyer Florian Beukes would require about 62 days to prepare for the Fishrot trial and would charge about N$1,1 million – N$18 000 per day – for his trial preparations, Esau said in his affidavit.

He also said Beukes’ additional fees to represent him during 60 days of proceedings in the trial would amount to about N$1,1 million.

In a further sworn statement also filed at the court, Esau said he did not succeed with attempts to obtain state-funded legal representation.

According to Esau, his assets under a property restraint order include his Omaheke region farm, valued at about N$17,9 million, a house in the Hochland Park area of Windhoek that is valued at about N$3,8 million, five motor vehicles with a combined value of about N$840 000, livestock and six bank accounts with a combined credit balance of about N$3,6 million.

His liabilities include an amount of about N$1,2 million that he owes to Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys and a tax liability of about N$2,3 million, which he is disputing, Esau said in his affidavit.

In her judgement, De Jager remarked that considering the facts placed before her in Esau’s application, the substantial amounts he said he has to pay to his lawyers appear reasonable.

She noted that Esau and his wife, Swamma Esau, to whom he is married in community of property, own immovable properties valued at about N$21,7 million.

The court was also informed that there is close to N$3 million in a bank account from which Esau and his wife are not allowed to withdraw money, due to the restraint order.

According to figures disclosed to the court, the value of Esau and his wife’s assets exceed their liabilities by far and there are sufficient assets under the restraint order to cover Esau’s legal expenses, De Jager said.

The Prevention of Organised Crime Act requires from someone applying to have funds released to pay for legal representation to disclose their assets and not the values of the assets, De Jager also said.

It cannot be said that in his application Esau failed to disclose his assets as required by the act, she stated.

De Jager ordered the prosecutor general, who opposed Esau’s application, to pay his legal costs in the matter.

Esau was represented by Florian Beukes, assisted by Roberto Avila.

The prosecutor was represented by state advocate Mariette Boonzaier.

The post Court frees funds to pay Esau’s legal fees appeared first on The Namibian.

Current track