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Education minister back in court for corruption

By: Kelvin Chiringa

Outspoken minister of basic education, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa is back in court this week Monday to answer to charges of corruption in which she is accused of flexing her muscles as Hardap governor to remove and add family members on a mass housing list.

Himarwa is expected to appear in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Christie Liebenberg at 10h00.

This case has attracted national interest as it comes as a rare occurrence in which a high ranking Swapo official is mauled on charges of corruption.

Her case kick-started last year in a series of trials during which high profile figures in the urban and rural development ministry, which is responsible for the mass housing projected, testified against her.

She has set the record straight by denying all the accusations against her, represented by prominent lawyer, Sisa Namandje of Sisa Namandje & CO Inc.

The minister has said that the Anti-Corruption Commission collected evidence against her for ulterior motives, denying that she ever directed any one to be removed from the list.

So far, the deputy director for housing, Merrow Thaniseb has dropped a bombshell in the corruption trial by revealing that she objected to the granting of houses to people who had campaigned against Swapo in Mariental.

Thaniseb is an urban and rural development employee of seven years.

Last year, he appeared as a state witness and testified that he was present in the meeting where the minister allegedly rejected a list of 19 housing beneficiaries.

The meeting was punctuated by an atmosphere of temper with the minister raising her voice to have her way, another witness has so far testified.

He said she instead proposed that her relatives, Justine Gowases and Lorraine Hansen be put in place of Regina Kulhman and Piet Fransman because these were not supporters of Swapo.

The case against the minister was further strengthened by another damning revelation by the ministerial permanent secretary Daniel Nghidinua (48) who told the judge that Himarwa indeed requested for the removal of two mass housing beneficiaries.

Nghidinua said that his team paid a courtesy visit to Himarwa’s office whereupon she expressed unhappiness at the list of the 19 beneficiaries stamping that she had been sidelined in the implementation of the project as well as drawing up the list.

However, ex-governor for Mariental, Alex Kamburute has denied that Himarwa’s alleged decision to change the list was due to politics, although he could not deny that she pushed for the change.

“The two that she wanted to withdraw (were) Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman. The two persons would be replaced by Justine Josephine Gowases and Christiana Hansen. The reason the Hon. governor Mrs. Katrina Hanse-Himarwa had advanced was that the two that would replace the other two needed the housing more.”

“I want to mention that at no time during our discussions for replacing the two persons did we discuss, or the governor Mrs. Katrina Hanse-Himarwa (take the decision) based on any political association. If it was discussed, it was while I was not present,” he said.

What has come out so far is that Himarwa was at no time endowed with the power to make any impactful decision, as the office of a governor is more ceremonial.

Her trial enters into an election year and will likely play into the campaign rhetoric of opposition camps.


Kelvin Chiringa

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