Victor Angula /

The Namibian Police have justified the continued handcuffing of two former top government ministers and their four co-suspects in the biggest corruption scandal in Namibia dubbed the “Fishrot”.

Omutumwa has taken note of the fact that every time former fisheries and marine resources minister Mr Bernhard Esau and former justice minister Mr Sacky Shanghala are brought to court they come there under heavy police guard but also in handcuffs.

The cuffs are removed from their wrists just at the doorway of the courtroom before entering – and they are clasped back as soon as the suspects stepped outside the courtroom.

It is a world-wide practice and a normal procedure of the administration of justice to not only arrest suspected law-breakers but to handcuff them as well.

But it is also a universal principle that all people do have the right to be treated decently and appropriately in consideration of their human rights and dignity even when they are suspected of having committed a crime.

So that the continued handling of the so-called “Fishrot 6” in the manner they have been handled by the law-enforcement officers would simply serve the purpose of rubbing on their human rights and chafing at their dignity.

The only justifiable purpose for handcuffing a suspect is to prevent him from escaping from the police while being escorted to the police cells or prison or from police cells to court or to hospital.

But taking into account the prominence of the “Fishrot” suspects the likelihood of them escaping from the police is remote.

When contacted for comment Police Deputy Commissioner Kaunapawa Shikwambi told Omutumwa that: “The Namibian Police Force is there to enforce the law without any fear or favour.”

The Deputy Commissioner also gave the example of businessman Mr Lazarus Shaduka who had run away from justice and remained a fugitive for several years after he was convicted of murdering his wife.

“To us there is no prominent suspect or a non-prominent suspect. We handcuff every suspect,” Shikwambi maintained.

The six suspects will appear in court again on 20 February 2020 to face charges of having received millions of dollars in bribes through a scheme which facilitated the looting of Namibian fish by European fishing companies.

CAPTION: The police removing the handcuffs from former justice minister Mr Sacky Shanghala before letting him enter the magistrate’s court in Windhoek.