The name Arnold Bengis has made its way back into the South African press this week as the former Hout Bay fishing magnate is suing the South Africa government for $11 million (R121m) for the part that they played in assisting the United States courts to jail him for smuggling in 2003, as well as for having to pay $22.5 million restitution to the government.
In 2003 Bengis, his son David and his former business partner, Jeffrey Noll, were arrested in the US on charges of conspiracy to smuggle South African lobster and Patagonian toothfish into the US. In 2004, all three were sentenced to jail time and have since served their time. Now living in the United Kingdom, all three accused have brought an application against the South African government, three cabinet minsters, the former legal adviser of fisheries and members of the former Scorpions, saying that the assistance that the US criminal prosecution received from these parties was unconstitutional and unlawful. They are claiming $11 351 703 in damages.
I am no legal expert, but these men were caught, tried, found guilty and convicted of their crime. They have served their time and this certainly feels like an interesting stretch to essentially challenge this ruling on these grounds. We shall wait and see where this case goes.
Robben Island has also made the news this week as the issue of the unreliable ferry system to and from the island is finally being addressed. The Robben Island Museum has invited tenders for two new ferries with a capacityof 150 to 180 passengers. The museum’s chief executive, Sibongiseni Mkhize said, “We have had problems with our operations in December and the council took a decision to look to the market and procure new vessels. We realised that our current operational model is not working.”
A tender opportunity of this magnitude will certainly be of interest to the local shipbuilding community.