Namibia Education minister’s corruption trial postponed to May

Katrina Hanse-Himarwa

The trial of education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who is being prosecuted on a charge under the Anti-Corruption Act, is scheduled to resume in the Windhoek High Court at the beginning of May.

Hanse-Himarwa made another appearance before High Court judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday (Wednesday), when her case was postponed to 1 May for the continuation of her trial.

The trial is due to continue from 1 to 5 May, and thereafter again from 18 June.

The dates for the continuation of the trial were agreed between Hanse-Himarwa’s defence lawyer, Sisa Namandje, and the prosecution, which was represented in court by state advocate Salomon Kanyemba today.

Hanse-Himarwa (52) is being prosecuted on a charge of corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification for herself or another person. The charge, on which she denied guilt at the start of her trial in October last year, emanates from her tenure as governor of the Hardap region from 2004 to early 2015.

The charge is based on allegations that Hanse-Himarwa in December 2014 interfered in the allocation of houses built at Mariental as part of the mass housing development programme by having two people taken off the list of beneficiaries of the housing project and having them replaced by two of her relatives.

Hanse-Himarwa denied the allegations in a plea explanation given to the judge at the start of her trial. She denied that she used her office as governor as alleged, and also stated that if it were to be found that she had used her office as alleged she was denying that she had used it corruptly, or that she had any intention to use her office corruptly.

“I did not remove any person’s name [nor] did I direct any name to be removed or to be replaced. In fact, I could not,” she stated.

However, during the trial so far, four state witnesses have testified that Hanse-Himarwa expressed her dissatisfaction over a list of 19 people who were to receive homes built under the mass housing development programme during a handover ceremony at Mariental on 17 December 2014, and that she identified two people whose names she wanted to be taken off the list, and two people whose names she wanted to be placed on the list instead.

The court heard earlier this month that the two people removed from the list, Mariental residents Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman, were told their names had been taken off the list because there were other people in more urgent need of housing than they were, and that there were rumours that they were supporters of opposition parties.

Kuhlman and Fransman both later received other houses built under the mass housing development programme.

A sister-in-law of Hanse-Himarwa, Lorraine Hansen, was one of the people given a house in the place of Kuhlman and Fransman. After being allocated the house, she did not move into the dwelling, but instead rented it to another Mariental resident for about a year, the court heard in other testimony earlier this month. – Own report/Nampa