Katrina's lawyer plays political card

23 May 2019 | Justice

Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who stands accused of corruption, will hear on Monday, 8 July whether the court has found her guilty.

Concluding his closing arguments in the High Court yesterday, defence lawyer Sisa Namandje said the case against his client was purely political. Hanse-Himarwa is accused of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act in 2014, when she was the Hardap governor. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) alleges that she corruptly placed her relatives on a list of housing beneficiaries at Mariental at the expense of the original beneficiaries. Namandje argued that given Namibia's apartheid history where people were unfairly convicted, it is now incumbent upon all courts hearing criminal trials to “meaningfully give content to notions of justice and fairness”.

“This is a spoilt trial. Witnesses were corrupted,” he insisted.

According to him it is a common trend in African politics to use trumped-up charges to bring down politicians. “Public office bearers and politicians always use the criminal justice system to bring down their enemies,” Namandje said.

“We accordingly submit that the accused's right to a fair trial has been gravely infringed upon and that the administration of justice will come into disrepute if the court does not use its power to refuse to be used as a medium of injustice through its wide powers under Article 25 of the Namibian constitution and common law power, to refuse to return a verdict of guilty and acquit the accused because of the failure of justice.”

Namandje also accused the ACC's main investigator in the case, Phelem Masule, of using his power as investigating officer to push personal vendettas. State advocate Ed Marondedze shot this down, however, saying Masule had not initiated the investigation or arrested Hanse-Himarwa.

“In fact, he came into the picture when the investigation was already started,” Marondedze said.

Marondedze also rejected Namandje's claim that his client was the victim of a political witch-hunt.

“Politics does not find its way into this. There is no politics here. This trial is also taking place well post-apartheid. There is nothing that smacks of apartheid,” said Marondedze.

JEMIMA BEUKES