New documents requested in phosphate case

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-The High Court application lodged by four fishing entities against the granting of a phosphate mining licence to Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) company, owned by flamboyant businessman Knowledge Katti, is still in case management stage.

The case is currently being managed by Judge Harald Geier, who yesterday issued an order to compel Environment Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhardt Esau and Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze, to provide Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) with the original mining application of about 10 years ago.

Apparently NMP took over the application from its original owners. The licence was, however, withdrawn by Shifeta after a massive public outcry over the granting of the licence.

The four applicants, however, decided to continue with their application in the High Court to have the licence to NMP declared invalid. The applicants, who are represented by local lawyer Sisa Namandje, are the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, the Namibian Hake Association, the Midwater Trawling Association and the fishing company, Omualo Fishing.

The respondents are Nghitila, Shifeta, Esau, Kandjoze, Attorney General Sacky Shangala and Namibia Marine Phosphate. Advocate Deon Obbes is representing them. Kandjoze is not opposing the application.

According to the order issued yesterday, the first four respondents should provide NMP with the licence by June 30, whereafter the parties will decide on the way forward and return to court on July 11 for another case management conference.

The matter was first brought before court when the four fishing entities made an urgent application to the High Court to review and set aside Ngfhitila’s decision to grant an environmental clearance certificate to NMP for marine phosphate mining on September 5 last year.

After widespread public furore was sparked when the media began to publicise the court case and the issuance of the licence for marine phosphate mining, in what is widely considered to be an ecologically sensitive breeding area for fish species found along the Namibian coastline, Shifeta set aside the award.

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