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Mariental development officer testifies in Himarwa’s corruption trial

By: Kelvin Chiringa

The corruption trial of basic education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa opened for the first time this year in the Windhoek High Court with the state calling its 12th witness, a community development officer at Mariental, Domingo Matesu.

Himarwa is facing a charge of using her office and influence to remove two beneficiaries of the mass housing project back in 2014 in place for her niece and sister-in-law, when she was still the Hardap governor.

It is said she directly ordered the addition of Justine Gowases (niece) and Lorraine Hansen (sister-in-law) in place of Regina Kulhman and Piet Fransman.

Matesu said the minister’s sister-in-law used to live in an informal settlement and only moved into her new home about two years later.

Matesu testified under oath before high court judge Christie Liebenberg that he was the man responsible for calling out for people to come apply for houses under the Build It Together initiative which later rolled out under the mass housing banner.

He also said he was responsible for the original master list of 469 beneficiaries from which only 19 people were chosen to benefit from the first 19 houses based on affordability, alphabetical order as well as gender balance.

While high profile figures, including the ministerial accounting officer and the deputy director for housing, Merrow Thaniseb have claimed that the minister indeed bull-dozed her way into the list to kick out two people for her relatives, Matesu said he only later heard that the original list had been changed.

The prosecutor nudged him, asking if he knew personally who had made such a change.

“I don’t know personally, I was informed during the hand-over and I realised there were changes,” he said under oath.

He also recalled that Fransman had come to his office before excited about the prospect of getting a new house, but later complained to him when his name was removed on the last hour.

This was on the very day that the houses were being handed over.

“I said I don’t know, because I had received the new list in that moment,” testified Matesu.

Matesu said he had no idea how the list was changed.

He has also denied the minister’s accusation that he is part of the conspiracy to pin her down using evidence collected to deliberately incriminate her.

Her lawyer, Sisa Namandje put it to him that his statement was a mere copied version of about three other statements taken from other witnesses.

Matesu’s date of birth was captured in 2014 by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as 1968 yet his age was put at 42, which implied he was born in 1973.

When this anomaly was presented to him, the witness said it could have been a typing error on the part of the ACC agent.

“You did not resist wrong things. This is a danger,” Namandje put it to him.

 

Kelvin Chiringa

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