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Himarwa trial to return on Fools’ Day

By: Kelvin Chiringa

The minister for basic education, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa will be taking a breather from the court proceedings of her corruption trial, to return in April.

The minister is battling corruption allegations that have for years now seen her hogging negative media lime-light.

Her trial commenced last year in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Christie Liebenberg.

Accusations against the minister are such that she used her governorship position in Hardap to have two people booted out of a mass housing list in place for her brother’s wife and a niece.

She is being represented by lawyer Sisa Namandje who saw the trial being adjourned to the 1st until the 5th of April and from the 18th to the 21st of June this year.

What has transpired so far?

Himarwa opened her trial this month after it got postponed last year, and so far, the initial investigating officer, Ernesto Esterhuizen who probed her case, testified together with the Anti-Corruption Director General, Paulus Noa.

Both of these witnesses in the state’s evidence in chief, testified that investigations against the minister were impartial, without any ulterior motives.

Noa himself said they sprang into action after a media outcry that certain people had been discriminated against in favour of others in the mass housing project where 19 houses had to be handed over.

He said from the initial evidence collected, it was clear that indeed someone had used authority to make changes on the list.

But Himarwa has stuck to his lines that the ACC specifically targeted her by fabricating, replicating and or tailoring statements from witnesses to bring out incriminating evidence against her.

She 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 substantiated this by showing court statements that were similar word for word in certain instances.

According to her, it was very unlikely for witnesses to say the same thing while in different places.

Yet the agent defended this striking similarity by arguing that it was because the witnesses were all talking about the same thing they witnessed.

Her lawyer submitted that there was a possibility that witnesses were coached to say what the agent wanted in the statements or that they were intimidated.

Noa denied receiving any reports of such.

“I have no information that there was any intimidation or that officers were placing (in the statements) their own information. But you showed me the similarities, I will take it as such,” he said.

Himarwa is convinced also that certain provisions of the ACC Act were broken, which made the reference of the docket to the Prosecutor General by the ACC unlawful.

So far high profile figures who were directly involved in this mass housing project in Mariental have said she directed the removal of the people from the list to benefit her cronies.

These are, the urban and rural development executive director Daniel Nghidinua, and deputy director for housing, Merrow Thaniseb.

The advisor to the then minister of regional and local government, housing and rural development Gabriel Castro also said the minister threatened to have the mass housing handover ceremony suspended c if several people on the beneficiaries list were not removed.

Castro has told court that Himarwa had politicized the project.

“I disagreed against the politicisation of the project. My understanding was that this was a national project. We wanted a clear distribution of the houses on a first come first save basis,” said Castro.

Kelvin Chiringa

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