WINDHOEK - Minister of education Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, 51, yesterday denied charges that she corruptly used her office – then as governor of Hardap Region - for gratification and placed the onus on the State to prove its allegations against her.
She took this stance when her corruption trial started yesterday in the Windhoek High Court yesterday before Judge Christi Liebenberg.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) alleges that Hanse-Himarwa in 2014 corruptly placed relatives on a list of housing beneficiaries of government’s mass housing scheme at Mariental by removing names of some beneficiaries who were originally on the list.
The minister denies the allegation and said in a statement that she was confident of clearing her name in court. In a plea explanation read into the court record by her legal representative, Sisa Namandje, the minister issued a collateral challenge saying that irrespective of the merits of the allegations the underlying decision of the prosecutor-general and the charge preferred against her are invalid and unlawful on the basis that the jurisdictional facts and statutory provisions under the ACC Act necessary for a lawful referral by the ACC’s director-general were not complied with. She further said her office as governor of the Hardap Region was inundated with complaints of unfair treatment during the mass housing initiative and she took it upon herself to investigate.
During her investigations she was provided with various lists of beneficiaries and was assured that all relevant requirements were complied with and were happy with the final list and did not complain about some names being removed and others inserted, Hanse-Himarwa said. “The position and office of the governor was never a necessary functionary or repository of power in respect of the allocation of houses,” the minister said. “I did not, as a matter of fact and law, use my office in respect of this matter and if it were to be found that I used my office, I deny that I used my office corruptly,” she argued.
She went on say that if it were found that she used her office corruptly, she plead that she did not have the necessary intention to commit any corrupt offence.
“I did not remove any person’s name [nor] did I direct any name to be removed or to be replaced.” According to Hanse-Himarwa, she in any event did not have the necessary power to remove anybody and if she had she would have made a written directive to that effect.
She further stated she is concerned that the ACC docket is full of confusing allegations, as in certain instances she is accused of having inserted the names of two persons, while in other instances it is alleged she directed the insertion of two names and again in other instances she is alleged to have used her office or position and her influence as governor.
“There appears to have been a desperate attempt to charge me at all cost when there was no evidence whatsoever,” the minister stated. She further said that she will ask the court to approach the state’s evidence with caution in that before she was approached by agents of the ACC and before she was informed that she was a suspect, she was informed by state witnesses Paulus Nghiwilepo and by Lydia Ganeb that they were constantly under pressure from agents of the ACC to make statements that incriminate her in particular.
The state yesterday called Daniel Nghidinwa, who was the permanent secretary of the Minister of Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, and who was charged with the implementation of the mass housing project.
While he was careful not to directly implicate his long-time friend, as he called Hanse-Himarwa, he did admit that the minister was not happy about the list of beneficiaries and wanted something done about it. The trial continues today and Hanse-Himarwa is free on a warning. The state is represented by Advocate Solomon Kanyemba, assisted by Advocate Constance Moyo.
2018-10-30 09:09:10 16 days ago