WINDHOEK - The second witness to testify in the corruption trial of education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, 51, was made to retract his statement that the CEO of Mariental Municipality told him that she (Hanse-Himarwa) removed two names from the beneficiary list for the mass housing scheme and replaced it with two other names.
This unfolded when the trial resumed before Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg yesterday.
Sisa Namandje, lawyer for Hanse-Himarwa, was spitting fire when he cross-examined Cassius Ndisiro, an accountant in the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
According to Namandje, the charge against his client was made up by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) which he says was using the state witnesses to falsely incriminate her.
He further told the witness that Hanse-Himarwa did not have the authority to change the beneficiary list. The state claims she used her influence as governor of Hardap Region at the time to have the list altered.
But Namandje would have none of that.
While cross-examining Ndisiro, he said one could clearly see that the witness statements have been tampered with. This, he said, was evident when comparing Ndisiro’s statement to that of state witness and technical officer Nestor Nghufeilimwe.
Although the statements were made in September and November 2017 respectively, they contain similar information, alleges Namandje.
“Looking at the two statements, they look the same. The wording, punctuation and phrasing of the sentences. There is an undeniable striking similarity in the two statements,” Namandje charged.
This clearly proves his point that the ACC was desperate to charge Hanse-Himarwa, he said.
Ndisiro, who was a bit short of words, informed the court that he stands by what is in his sworn witness statement and he did not discuss the merits of the case with Nghufeilimwe or anyone else.
The latter, when he took the stand, explained to the court the different types of houses that were built in Mariental as part of government’s mass housing scheme. He said that C5 for which you had to have an income of not more than N$4 500, C6 for an income of not more than N$5 500 and C7 for an income of not more than N$6 500 were constructed in Mariental in addition to social housing.
He told the court that seven C5 houses were built, five C6 and six C7. The names Hanse-Himarwa allegedly replaced fell into the C5 category, Nghufeilimwe informed the court.
Hanse-Himarwa, who was again in high spirits and dressed in a black dress, is charged with one count of corruption. The corruption allegations stem from her days as Hardap governor, after it was alleged by the 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.
According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, Hanse-Himarwa as the governor of 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 were, where-after she directed that Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman must be removed from the list and replaced by Justine Josephine Gowases and Christiana Lorraine Hanse.
The court heard that Hanse is married to Davis Joseph Hansen, the brother of Hanse-Himarwa, while Gowases is her niece. Hanse then went on and rented out the house allocated to her, the indictment reads. The trial continues today and Hanse-Himarwa is free on a warning. The state is represented by advocates Salomon Kanyemba and Constance Moyo.