CEO testifies against Katrina

Mariental council CEO Paul Nghiwilepo yesterday took the stand to testify in former Hardap governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa's corruption trial.

14 November 2018 | Justice

Katrina Hanse-Himarwa's lawyer, Sisa Namandje, yesterday accused the State of withholding a statement made by a key witness in the former Hardap governor's corruption trial.

Namandje said he had access to only one statement by Mariental municipality CEO Paul Nghiwilepo while the CEO had submitted five statements to the Anti-Corruption Commission. Nghiwilepo yesterday took the stand to testify against his business partner and friend, whom he accused of interfering in the shortlisting of beneficiaries for social housing at Mariental.

He also disputed Hanse-Himarwa's version that the two candidates she had suggested were disabled.

The charge against Hanse-Himarwa, who is now the minister of basic education, dates back to her term as Hardap regional governor.

It is alleged by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) that she corruptly placed her relatives on a list of beneficiaries of the mass housing scheme at Mariental in 2014, replacing the original beneficiaries. Hanse-Himarwa denied the allegation and said in a statement that she was confident of clearing her name in court.

Nghiwilepo testified that, during a meeting held a day before the handover of the houses, Hanse-Himarwa stated that she wanted to make changes to the beneficiary list.

“She wanted Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman to be removed from the list. She put forward the names that she wanted to replace them with. They were Justine Josephine Gowases and Christiana Lorraine Hanse,” Nghiwilepo said.

He added that the meeting finally decided that Kuhlman and Fransman would be removed from the list and considered for the next batch of houses.

“The governor was adamant to have the names replaced,” he said, adding that “politicians are not involved in the selection of beneficiaries, it was unusual.”

Another thing that struck him as strange was the fact that “the honourable governor wanted to know about everybody on the list.”

He added that Hanse-Himarwa had emphasised during the meeting that she wanted people from Mariental to benefit from the housing project. Nghiwilepo told the court that he and Gabriel Marin Castro, who was an adviser on housing to the then minister of regional and local government and housing, had a meeting with Fransman and Kuhlman to explain that they had been removed from the list.

“Castro suggested we have a meeting with Kuhlman and Fransman. Rehoboth East councillor Edward Wambo was part of the meeting to explain to them what was happening… that the list was changed and that unfortunately they were no longer beneficiaries. Castro told them it was because of their political affiliation,” said Nghiwilepo.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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