WINDHOEK - The corruption trial of former governor of the Hardap Region and current minister of education, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, resumed yesterday with the last state witness to testify before the education minister will take to the witness box to give her version. The main investigator of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in the saga, Phelem Masule, told the court he took over the investigation after the former investigator Franco Ernesto Esterhuizen resigned from the ACC. According to him, when he took over, he went through the various witness statements obtained and proceeded to seek clarity from some of them. These specially included three statements obtained from the CEO of Mariental Municipality, Paul Nghiwilepo, which he asked the witness to consolidate into one statement.
He further said that he wanted to have clarity on issues in the statements, especially where it was mentioned that political influence was at play in the awarding of the mass houses.
According to him, the CEO only said he had heard it through the grapevine and when he prodded him further, he would not say. On a question from Sisa Namandje, who is appearing for the minister, whether he is aware of a concerted effort by the ACC to incriminate her without any evidence, Masule said such a practice would be unethical, improper and totally unfounded.
Namandje hammered on the duplicity of statements supposedly taken by the ACC investigators. He said there appears to be one statement for the investigators and another one for the witnesses. He wanted to know where these primary statements were and whether they contained any information the ACC did not want the court, or for that matter the defence, to see. Masule just told him that nothing of evidential value was kept from the court or the defence. On a question from Namandje whether a request from a political figure cannot be entertained on the discretion of the officials involved in the compilation of the beneficiary list, Masule was adamant that the accused issued a directive when she ordered the replacement of the candidates and not a request. He also denied the assertion by Namandje that the whole saga is a calculated move by the ACC to incriminate her and said the evidence pointed to the former governor.
She is charged with the offence of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act from her days as Hardap governor, after it was alleged by the Anti-Corruption Commission (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 during the project in 2014.
The minister denied the allegation and said in a statement that she was confident of clearing her name in court.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, the accused as the governor of the Hardap Region was supposed to officiate at the handing over of houses constructed under the mass housing project and when the list of beneficiaries was handed to her, she expressed her disappointment because her office was not engaged to be part of the selection process.
Among other things, she wanted to know, according to the indictment, who each of the beneficiaries on the list was, whereafter she directed that Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman must be removed from the list and replaced by Justine Josephine Gowases and Christiana Lorraine Hanse. Previous state witnesses testified that the accused wanted the two recipients removed because they belonged to opposition political parties.
It is further stated that Hanse-Himarwa is married to Davis Joseph Hansen, the brother of Hanse-Himarwa while Gowases is her niece. Hansen then went on to rent out the house allocated to her, the indictment reads. So far several of the witnesses called by the state have confirmed that Hanse-Himarwa caused them to remove the names of Kuhlman and Fransman from the list and replace them with the names of her relatives. She is free on a warning. The state is represented by Advocates Salomon Kanyemba and Ed Marondedze.
2019-04-02 09:17:15 19 days ago