WINDHOEK - One of the initial beneficiaries of the mass housing scheme at Mariental in 2014 whose name was allegedly removed from the list on instruction of ex-Hardap governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said the house was taken away from her for supporting the opposition.
Hanse-Himarwa, who is facing a trial in the High Court in this regard, is now the minister of education. Regina Kuhlmann informed High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg yesterday that the explanation she and another beneficiary received over the removal of their names from the list was that they supported the opposition.
Kuhlmann confirmed that at the time she was a district coordinator for opposition party DTA, now called PDM.
“We were astounded and wanted to know why the two of us and were told it is very clear, you are the opposition,” Kuhlmann said and continued: “We were told that the minister [Hanse-Himarwa] was the one who made the decision.”
According to Kuhlmann, they were first called on the day before the official handing over was to take place and told to go to the Mariental Municipality to sign contracts for the houses they were to receive.
However, she said, the next morning she received a phone call from the municipality asking her to go there. When she arrived, she found Piet Fransman, the other recipient whose name was removed from the list – and both were shown into an office where regional councillor Edward Wambo, CEO of the municipality Paul Nghiwilepo and Marien Castro, the then advisor of the minister of local government waited for them.
According to the witness, it was Wambo who did most of the talking and informed them that Hanse-Himarwa has decided to remove their names from the list of beneficiaries and replace it with “more needy” recipients.
She said that he also told them that it was the first time that a governor became involved in such decisions.
According to Kuhlmann, she became very emotional and started crying as she felt ‘very bad’. “I felt as if I am not a Namibian and do not belong here,” she said.
“I felt as if I was in another country. I signed the contract and expected to receive my house.”
She further said that they were later told that they will be allocated other houses and was taken to the site where the other houses was being built and showed an uncompleted house that was to be hers. They then signed the new contracts, Kuhlmann said.
According to her, she first applied for a house under the Built Together Scheme in 2004 and when the mass housing scheme was introduced during 2010, she again applied in 2012 - eventually receiving a Core 7 house for N$138 000 into which she moved in 2015.
Hanse-Himarwa is charged with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act. It is alleged that she corruptly used 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 originally-intended beneficiaries.
The minister denied the allegation and said in a statement that she was confident of clearing her name in court.
She is represented by Sisa Namandje and the State by Advocates Ed Marondedze and Solomon Kanyemba.
Pic: Hanse-Himarwa trial 1