Katrina's corruption trial draws to a close

22 May 2019 | Justice

Closing arguments in education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa's corruption trial were made in the High Court yesterday, with defence lawyer Sisa Namandje warning that “exaggerated rumours based on jealousy” can destroy lives.

Namandje harked back to the liberation struggle, saying that many Swapo combatants had been wrongfully accused.

He warned that if the court was not careful, his client also may be punished because of malicious rumours.

State advocate Ed Marondedze, on the other hand, appealed to the court to find Hanse-Himarwa guilty as charged.

He said it was not enough for an accused person to deny guilt without presenting sufficient evidence of innocence.

Marondedze asked the court to ignore all other alternatives but corruption.

He added that the State and the defence counsel had done everything they could to ensure that the minister had a fair trial.

Hanse-Himarwa, who stands accused of corruptly using her position as Hardap governor for gratification, was implicated by State witnesses of having issued a directive to remove two Mass Housing beneficiaries -Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman - from the beneficiary list because of their political affiliation.





They were replaced by Hanse-Himarwa's relatives Justine Gowases and Lorraine Hanse.



Marondedze said all the evidence showed that Hanse-Himarwa had removed the names on the list in favour of her relatives.



“She lied about it,” he said.



Marondedze also emphasised that Hanse-Himarwa had the power to influence the housing project by virtue of her position as governor of the Hardap Region.



He added that if she had not been the regional governor, the Mass Housing team would not have approached her and the court case would not have taken place.



“Her personal assistant also told the court that they have a file of high-level retreats for the Mass Housing [project]. Retreats are where you have discussions,” he said.



The prosecutor also questioned why Hanse-Himarwa, who said she took pride in the Mass Housing project, had failed to report the amendment of the beneficiary list to the CEO of the Mariental municipality.



Namandje yesterday reminded the court that liberation stalwarts such as Aron Mushimba had been sentenced to death because people alleged that he was collaborating with the enemy.



Namandje emphasised that the Namibian constitution puts a high premium on a fair trial.



“This country went through a lot. Some Swapo combatants were killed because of jealousy and neighbours exaggerated that they collaborated with the enemy,” he said.



Namibia had moved away from this culture, Namandje said.



He further asked the court to take into consideration that there were striking similarities in the statements of all seven State witnesses, which he claimed indicated that the ACC was bent on incriminating his client.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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