Three judges of appeal of the Namibia Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively put paid to the hopes of former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who has been convicted on one charge of corruptly using her office for gratification, to have her conviction and subsequent sentence quashed.
Justice of Appeal Sylvester Mainga, together with Justice of Appeal Elton Hoff and Acting Justice of Appeal Theo Frank, dismissed a petition Katrina lodged at the Supreme Court after Windhoek High Court
Judge Christie Liebenberg refused her leave to appeal for lack of condonation.
Katrina was convicted in July last year by High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg and sentenced to a fine of N$50 000 or 24 months imprisonment plus a further 12 months suspended for five years on condition that she is not convicted of corruption during the period of suspension.
She then lodged an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court out of time and claimed in her condonation application that she had instructed her erstwhile attorney of record, Sisa Namandje, to launch her appeal in time, but due to the fact that she still owed him money, he could not oblige.
She further said that after some time – after the deadline for her appeal application has passed – she managed to get finances to launch the appeal.
Judge Liebenberg, however, struck her appeal from the record after he found that her explanation for filing the application late was not reasonable and acceptable.
He further said he found that the possibility another court may come to a different conclusion than him on the interpretation of the law is not sufficient to justify the granting of leave to appeal.
South Africa’s Advocate Barry Roux SC, instructed by Murorua, Kurtz and Kasper Inc., argued on behalf of Hanse-Himarwa during the hearing for leave to appeal for the High Court to grant the leave for the Supreme Court – Namibia’s Highest Court – to give guidance on the implications of the sections of the Anti-Corruption Act (ACA) that governs the charges the former minister faced. While Roux had no qualms about the judgement of Liebenberg, he did question the approach the judge took in reaching his conclusions.
Roux argued that the finding of Judge Liebenberg that Katrina abused her power when she ordered the removal of two names from the Mariental Mass Housing List in 2016 and replaced it with two of her family members was not factually correct, as she did not have the power to do so.