ACC claims impartiality in Hanse-Himarwa trial

WINDHOEK - The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) official investigating claims there were irregularities in the allocation of mass houses at Mariental in 2014 yesterday said several people told him that ex-governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa ordered them to remove two names from the original list of beneficiaries.

According to Franco Ernesto Esterhuizen, who was tasked with unearthing the truth into the allegations, ACC received a complaint at the beginning of January 2015 that something untoward happened during the allocation of mass houses at the southern town and he was dispatched to investigate.

During his investigation, he spoke to several members of the team that did the vetting and selection of the intended beneficiaries as well as the officials involved.

He further told the court that during his investigations he came to hear that the then governor, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, while not authorized to, had interfered in the selection process and ordered that the names of two beneficiaries be removed and replaced with relatives of hers.

He further said that he interviewed several people and took down their statements, which he then typed up and gave to them to read and satisfy themselves on whether their versions were correctly captured.

He further said he would interview the deponents, take down notes and type the statements from the notes and if anything was not clear or inaccurate, the deponent could make changes before he would print it and hand over the notes for them to sign.

He was responsible for taking five statements including that of the municipality CEO Paul Nghiwilepo

, mass housing consultant Marien Castro, councillor Edward Wambo, and Ministry of Urban and Rural Development official Merrow Thaniseb, amongst others.

During cross-examination by Hanse-Himarwa lawyer Sisa Namandje, the witness denied that he merely copied and pasted the statements and was adamant that each and every one who deposed statements to him read their statements and declared it as accurate before signing it.

He further dismissed Namandje's assertion that all the statements are similar in nature.

Hanse-Himarwa, who was dressed in a plain white dress and 'veldskoene' shoes yesterday, stands charged with the offence from her days as Hardap governor, after it was alleged by the ACC that she corruptly placed relatives on a list of housing beneficiaries of the mass housing scheme at Mariental and replaced some originally-intended beneficiaries during the mass housing project in 2014.

Hanse-Himarwa, currently the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, has consistently denied the allegations.

She allegedly ordered the removal of Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman from the list of beneficiaries and replace them with Justine Josephine Gowases and Christiana Lorraine Hanse.

It is alleged that Hanse is married to Davis Joseph Hansen, a brother of Hanse-Himarwa, while Gowases is her niece. Hanse-Himarwa is free on a warning. The state is represented by Advocates Salomon Kanyemba and Ed Marondedze. The trial continues today.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia