WINDHOEK - The former governor of the Hardap Region and current education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, 51, told members of a team that evaluated and selected the first beneficiaries of the mass housing scheme at Mariental that she was the appointed political leader of the region and thus things should be done her way.
This was said yesterday by Merrow Thaniseb, the deputy director of housing in the Ministry of Urban Rural Development, when he testified in the corruption trial of Hanse-Himarwa before Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg.
Thaniseb further said the erstwhile governor was unhappy with the list and wanted to know why people that campaign against Swapo are given houses at the expense of those that campaign for the ruling party. According to Thaniseb, they briefed Hanse-Himarwa about the criteria used to select the beneficiaries and informed her that it was the way it was done in other regions where mass housing houses were already allocated.
Her reply was that what has transpired in other regions is not her concern and as she was the appointed political leader of the Hardap Region, things should be done her way, Thaniseb informed the court.
According to him, the former governor was not happy with the fact that her office was not involved in the selection process. He further said he got a feeling that Hanse-Himarwa was under the impression that the selection process took place without the knowledge of the local authority of Mariental. This happened on the day before the handing over of the houses, Thaniseb stated. He further said the CEO of the municipality and the then advisor of the then line minister and the representative of the National Housing Enterprise were summoned to the office of the governor where she indicated that she wanted the list of beneficiaries amended. “She then came up with two names, Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman, that she wanted removed from the list and replaced with the names of Justine Josephine Gowases and Christiana Lorraine Hansen,” Thaniseb said in his testimony. He said the governor informed them that she based the selection of the two names she wanted on the list on that there was an immediate need for them as they were physically challenged. He further said that he was not happy with the way the governor acted and he called his permanent secretary to inform him of what transpired. According to Thaniseb, if names were to be removed from the list, they should be replaced with names directly below it and not by ones farther down the list. In any event, Thaniseb said, one of the names Hanse-Himarwa suggested did not qualify for the type of mass housing they were building in Mariental, but for type D1 which was constructed in Keetmanshoop only, while the other one qualified for a Core 6 house, but was allocated a Core 5 house.
During cross-examination of Thaniseb, lawyer Sisa Namandje on behalf of Hanse-Himarwa tried his level best to unsettle him, but he stuck to his guns saying he remembers very well what occurred at that time. Namandje told the witness there are material differences between what he testified to and the testimonies of the previous witnesses.
He said that Hanse-Himarwa did not have the power to change the list and the witness had said that her office gave her the power to ensure that suggestions she made are carried out.
Hanse-Himarwa, who has made the trial her own fashion show, was dressed in a bright green dress with darker patches, a matching jacket and shoes. She is charged with one count of corruption. The corruption allegations stem 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 at Mariental and replaced some original intended beneficiaries.
The minister denied the allegation and said in a statement that she was confident of clearing her name in court. The trial continues today and Hanse-Himarwa is free on a warning. The state is represented by advocates Salomon Kanyemba and Constance Moyo.