Deon van Zyl from Afro Fishing, writes:
On 18 December 2019 Afro Fishing and Johan Breed brought an urgent application against a local, self-employed journalist to interdict her from spreading untruths and incorrect facts.
The reason for the application was the concern that these incorrect articles were a ploy to derail the public authorisation process under way for the expansion of Afro Fishing. The application was not successful and unfortunately Judge Desai failed to supply reasons for his judgment.
Here are the facts:
- This journalist has published articles with the aim of linking Afro Fishing and its directors to the Icelandic corruption scandal in Namibia, dating to the period 2012-2016 (which involved an Icelandic company called Samherji).
- Afro Fishing shares a common director with Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) in Namibia. SPP was formally established in 2018.
- SPP is a public private partnership with the state-owned enterprise Fishcor. The arrangement is gazetted, and the aim is to establish a land-based factory to process pelagic fish as opposed to factory trawlers. This way, land-based employment is created. By virtue of Fishcor's shareholding, Fishcor appoint their own directors to the boards of the private public partnership. In this case SPP. SPP was commissioned in 2019 and the project was approved by the Namibian Government and not just one or two Ministers.
- The quota processed by SPP remains in the name of Fishcor, the Government state-owned enterprise.
- The "fishrot" scandal implicated Fishcor directors. Fishcor is however not corrupt, as stated in their press release in the Namib Times of December 2019. Certain individuals on their board have been implicated and subsequently removed from the board. Fishcor distances themselves from the corrupt deeds of these individuals.
- No investigation against Afro Fishing, Johan Breed or SPP is ongoing or pending, as these parties are not involved with the Icelandic scandal in Namibia.
- It is unfortunate that this journalist would rather continue to write articles stating, for example, that the Afro Fishing CEO will not tell her who the directors are when this was already confirmed in an email dated July 2019. Or she will state in her articles that Afro Fishing applied to "gag" her because she made the names of our directors public. This is twisting the truth, as the naming of the directors was confirmed and not the reason for the court application.
- With reference to funding of the expansion project, Afro Fishing is in discussion with their bank for project funding. Secondly, the investment made in Afro Fishing is registered with the SA Reserve Bank as is normal practice. Any reference to untoward activities regarding funding is simply malicious.
The Afro Fishing public participation process has been conducted. The final Basic Assessment Review (BAR) application will be submitted within the next two weeks. Thereafter the department has 112 days to record a decision.
Afro Fishing is confident that the Mossel Bay public and the authorities are aware of this haphazard connecting of dots by this journalist and which has created untruths. Afro Fishing will abide by all statutory requirements of the Basic Assessment and Review Process.
This letter exceeds the stipulated length, but an exception has been made in this case - Editor