Mariental CEO refuses to buckle under cross-examination

 

Chief Executive Officer for Mariental Paul Nghiwilepo stood his ground under cross-examination yesterday in the corruption trial of basic education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa.

 

The session took the whole day as lawyer Sisa Namandje sought to discredit Nghiwilepo's latest testimony that the minister used her governorship power to benefit her relatives during the mass housing program of 2014. 

 

 Nghiwilepo refused to flinch as Namandje posted some tough questions.

 

 The lawyer, in certain instances, tried to show the contradictions in his account with that of previous witnesses, of what happened during the time when the alleged corruption happened.

 

Namandje argued that the CEO failed to show the date when one of the listed beneficiaries, Regina Kuhlman’s applied for housing.

 

This contradicted the criteria that people could benefit housing based on when they applied, within the first-come-first-serve criterion, he suggested.

 

The CEO agreed to this.

 

 “As the CEO then you can’t defend her presence on the (final) list,” Namandje thrust.

 

Yet Nghiwilepo said it could be that her application date was made available when the selection team was doing its job.

He said he only could not find the date at the time when the Anti-Corruption Agents asked for it.

 

However, it came out that Piet Fransman and Kuhlman were not the only names that were removed from the list of housing beneficiaries.

 Another disabled individual named Linda Mukuli was added at the request of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund on humanitarian grounds.

 

This meant that three people had to be removed and three added.

Nghiwilepo said although he got information that Mukuli was not on the waiting list he and his team decided that she be added anyway.

 

Namandje put it to him that Himarwa’s relatives had also applied for housing as far back as 2002 and 2007 and if Mukuli was added on the basis that she could afford then they too qualified since they could afford.

 

The CEO hit back saying they were a different case.

Namandje further pressed if Nghiwilepo had such powers to select Mukuli in terms of generally accepted procedures.

 

“We did not select her, the (selection) team did, we only agreed that she be added,” he responded as the lawyer further pressed if there were any special procedures set by the ministry on how to deal with disabled people.

Nghiwilepo said such procedures did not exist.

 

The defence lawyer pushed the CEO further by revealing to him that one of the witnesses, Casius Ndisiro had told the court that Nghiwilepo had not told them who removed the names on the list.

Ndisiro is one of the joint team’s members that assessed the authenticity of the list and they answered to Nghiwilepo.

 

Although he stamped that he had indeed told this team that the governor had demanded to have the final list changed, Namandje suggested that the contradiction suggested that he could be “making up stories”.

 

“Why you didn’t tell them was because the governor never instructed you to change the list,” Namandje bore in.

 

Meanwhile, the trial continues playing out in the Windhoek High Court where Himarwa is wadding off accusations that she used her authority as governor of Hardap to remove names and add her relatives on a housing beneficiaries list.

The state is being represented by Advocates Ed Marondedze and Salomon Kanyemba.