Katrina more subdued

The basic education minister has repeated claims she had made in her plea explanation, that some witnesses had been pressured to implicate her.

31 October 2018 | Justice

A slightly subdued but always impeccably dressed Katrina Hanse-Himarwa returned to the High Court yesterday for the second day of her corruption trial.

Wearing a black dress with matching black-and-white shoes, and carrying a handbag with big bows, basic education minister Hanse-Himarwa listened attentively and took notes in a little white notebook.

She is on trial for alleged graft committed during her time as Hardap governor. She made herself comfortable with a white cushion on the wooden court bench. It is alleged she interfered and replaced the names of two beneficiaries of the mass housing project at Mariental during December 2014. She has pleaded not guilty to corruptly using her office or position to obtain gratification for herself or another person.

It is alleged she allocated the two houses to her relatives, at the expense of the two original beneficiaries. While her supporters slightly shrank from Monday's trail kickoff, her husband Ghenno Himarwa remained by her side yesterday.

Hanse-Himarwa insists that some witnesses confided in her that they were under pressure to testify against her, and were asked: “Why are you protecting Katrina.”

Nestor Nghufeilemwe, a works inspector in the ministry of urban and rural development, who worked as an artisan in the ministry during 2014, was the third witness to take the stand.

According to him, he was part of the ministerial team that was dispatched to Mariental to handle the logistics of the official handover of the mass housing units, as well as to verify the beneficiary list.

“We did the process of the list in the Mariental municipality boardroom under the supervision of the (town) CEO Paul Nghiwilepo. We scrutinised the list and did the shortlisting.

“Afterwards we handed this list over to the CEO and the local authority councillors, who asked the questions where they did not understand and they were answered until they were satisfied. The local authority councillors agreed with the list and gave their blessings,” he said. Nghufeilemwe told the court he was the person who typed the final list of beneficiaries that was handed over to the CEO.

According to him the team were then told to summon the beneficiaries to sign their contracts with the municipality.

“I took the beneficiaries to the houses and showed them which houses they would receive,” he said.

Nghufeilemwe also testified that although the basic criteria were “first come, first served”, this may have been overshadowed by affordability.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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