WINDHOEK - Despite State Advocate Ed Marondedze’s probing questions, Minister of Education Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, 51, the former governor of Hardap Region remained steadfast in her denials of any wrongdoing during the handing over of the Mariental Mass Houses in 2014.
Dodging bullets from the prosecutor, the minister who was dressed in a black top and skirt with a white jacket and without her signature head scarf, replied time and again that she could not have done what she is accused of as she was not an administrator and had no influence over the members. Wanting to know from the former governor why she did not go back to the lists of recipients she received from the municipality when she became aware of the rumours that the final list was tampered with, she said she had no reason to panic about rumours she knew were not true. Stressing the point, Marondedze asked why if the rumours the list was tampered with was the “talk of the town” as she had put it, did she not find it prudent to make sure whether the list was indeed tampered with to which she answered that she did not find it necessary as she knew that she did not remove or insert any names on the list.
Marondedze then bluntly told Hanse-Himarwa: “So you did not care that the list was tampered with?”
He further asked her if as the national leader in the region, why she did nothing while serious allegations of a program she claimed to be proud of was floating around and the minister wanted in turn to know if she had to jump around just because it is a national program and that she waited for the right platform to get answers.
Marondedze then flat-out told her that deep down in her heart she knows that she did it, that she inserted the names and took a conscious decision as a leader not to investigate the allegations of the irregularities. Katrina Hanse-Himarwa further denied the testimony of the then permanent secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Daniel Nghidimwa, that the list of beneficiaries was discussed at a meeting with her on December 17, 2014.
According to her there were no discussions and it was only a briefing meeting to inform the then deputy minister Priscilla Beukes, about the program.
On a question by Marondedze why her political allies and her close friend and business partner Paul Nghiwilepo, would incriminate her in the manner they did she said, “I have wondered about that myself My Lord, and the only conclusion I can come to is that was a connivance that has been engineered and manufactured by the agents of the ACC”, apparently to incriminate her.
According to her, Nghiwilepo who is the CEO of the Mariental Municipality told her in 2015 already that ACC agents are pressurising him to incriminate her in the mass housing saga and insisted that he say she tampered with the initial list of beneficiaries.
She faces a charge of corruptly using her office for gratification. The charge emanates from her days as Hardap governor, after it was alleged by the ACC that she corruptly placed relatives on a list of housing beneficiaries of the Mass Housing Scheme at Mariental and replaced some original intended beneficiaries in 2014. She is represented by Sisa Namandje and Marondedze is assisted by State Advocate Solomon Kanyemba. The trial continues today and Hanse-Himarwa is free on a warning.