Ex-ACC agent grilled in Himarwa’s trial

 

An ex-Anti-Corruption Commission agent who initially investigated basic education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa on allegations of corruption in Mariental in 2015, has denied under oath that he deliberately collected incriminating evidence to nail her down.

 

Fannuel Ernesto Esterhuizen was brought in as state witness before High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg as the minister’s case continue to drag.

 

He said his investigation was not biased against Himarwa nor did he have an interest in the outcome of the court process.

 

The ex-agent, who left the ACC in November of 2015, is at the centre of a counter-accusation by Himarwa in which she claims that he fabricated statements in order to bring up a case against her.

 

Her lawyer, Sisa Namandje also weighed in to say that by using his own words in written statements, contrary to what the witnesses said, the agent had obstructed the course of justice, a serious accusation which the state objected.

 

Himarwa has also alleged that she was informed by the municipal chief executive officer that the ACC was pressuring witnesses to provide statements targeted to bring her down.

 

She has also complained that when it came to her being investigated, the ACC adopted a different approach in order to incriminate her.

 

Namandje has revealed before court four witness statements whose wording is the same in certain instances, saying it was highly irregular for people in different places to have submitted the same account.

 

He has told the court that the similarity of the statements meant that the witnesses either colluded with each other, or that they were made to agree to a version of the agent before they put their signatures.

 

One of the witnesses has, under a heated cross examination, disclosed that some of the words in her statement were not hers.

 

Yet Esterhuizen defended himself saying he only wrote down what the witnesses said and made them to sign the statements.

 

“I do not deny the similarity, but they signed the statements as theirs,” he told the court although he admitted that some of the words he used where not the witnesses.

“I didn’t take the statements verbatim, I wrote notes,” he added.  

 

The similarity in words, he claimed, was because they were all talking about things they witnessed at the same time.

 

Namandje also substantiated his fabrication claim by disclosing to court that two witnesses were made to sign their statements on the same day at exactly the same time, which to him was highly irregular.

 

Their ages, as shown on the statement documents, did not match the years they were born, he said.

 

Pressed by the judge what was irregular about two people signing at once, Namandje said as a commissioner, the agent naturally was expected to discuss with each witness first and agree if the statements had been transcribed correctly.

 

Yet the ex-agent submitted that the two witnesses worked in the same building, with their offices next to each other, which made it possible for them to sign at the same time.

 

It has also come out that Himarwa was not the only person the ACC was investigating at first, but the Hardap ex-governor Alex Kamburute and a councillor as well.

These were later dropped as the ACC closed in on Himarwa.

 

The minister’s trial continues in the High Court and the ACC director Paulus Noa is expected to come in and testify.