Samherji ex-workers plead with Geingob

03 November 2020 | Fishing

Windhoek · [email protected]

Crew members of the seized Heinaste fishing vessel, which belonged to controversial Icelandic company Samherji, have pleaded with President Hage Geingob to prioritise them when new jobs at sea become available.

The vessel was seized as part of investigations into claims that Samherji paid millions in bribes to access Namibian fishing quotas.

The alleged bribes have led to the arrest of former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau and former attorney-general Sacky Shanghala, who remain in jail pending their trial.

The pair, alongside four others, mark exactly a year behind bars this month.

The seventh accused, suspended Fishcor CEO Mike Nghipunya, had his bail appeal dismissed in the High Court last week.

Joblessness and poverty

Samherji pulled out of Namibia after the scandal came to the fore, and its attempt to sail the Heinaste vessel away was stopped by Namibian authorities.

The crew of that vessel has now written a letter, saying their lives of joblessness have dragged them into poverty.

Writing to Geingob, fisheries minister Albert Kawana and co-shareholder in the vessel, Arctic Nam Fishing, the crew members said the vessel’s seizure had turned their lives upside down.

“Our current livelihood is in ache, languishing in poverty and life has become miserable in all aspects of living, sustainability and domestic care,” the crew members wrote.

They appealed to the vessel’s shareholders and government to resolve the matter amicably.

‘Consider us as first priority’

“We are appealing to the government, Albert Kawana, Samherji and Arctic Nam shareholders to come on board and engage to consider us as first priority whenever the vessel will be ready for fishing operation as the assessment of all affected and victimised fishermen is right underway in the industry.”

The crew members also accused certain factions from preventing them from regaining meaningful employment.

“We identified certain agents who are busy preventing us to resume our job back and intend to replace us with new employees, which are their friends and families. We are the legitimate Heinaste permanent [crew members] and this will cause complication or even a strike,” they warned.

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