Hanse-Himarwa sentenced to pay N.dollars 50 000 fine

Former Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa convicted of corruption earlier this month, has escaped a direct prison term when the High Court sentenced her to pay a fine of N.dollars 50 000.

Hanse-Himarwa, 52, was on Wednesday sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 50 000 or serve a direct prison sentence of 24 months of which (half) 12 months were suspended for a period of five (5) months on conditions that she is not found guilty of any offence of corruption or other related criminal offences during the period of suspension.

The sentence follows when the former education minister was on 08 July 2019 found guilty of wrongly and corruptly abusing or using her position as the governor of the Hardap Region to make changes to the original list of mass housing beneficiaries for the benefit of two of her relatives between 15 and 17 December 2014.

High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg, who presided over the corruption trial, handed down the sentence in the matter on Wednesday morning.

'The offence of corruption is a serious offence against the rule of law. Hanse-Himarwa had abused the power invested in her as the governor of the Hardap Region. Your actions were indeed politically-motivated. You supposed to represent all the people residing in the Hardap Region irrespective of their political party affiliations. The convict did not personally benefited from her wrongful actions. The convict person' s actions were just errors of judgement. Therefore, in this case, a prison sentence is not an option, ' said Judge Liebenberg when he sentenced Hanse-Himarwa to pay a fine instead of sending her behind bars.

The former minister, through her privately-instructed defence lawyer SisaNamandje, on 24 July 2019 in her pre-sentencing evidence pleaded with the court for mercy and asked that it not impose a direct prison punishment.

She instead asked that the court hand down a sentence in the form of a fine.

Hanse-Himarwa also apologised to the two victims, the court and the entire nation for her involvement in the corruption scandal.

However, Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze unsuccessfully wanted the court to send Hanse-Himarwa directly to prison because she lied before court when she denied being involved in the changing of names on the original list of beneficiaries of the mass housing project during December 2014 at Mariental.

It also came to light on 24 July 2019 that Hanse-Himarwa so far incurred a bill of over N.dollars 1 million in legal fees for her representation by the Windhoek-based SisaNamandje law firm.

She has now stepped down from her position as minister after her conviction on the charge of corruption.

The overwhelming totality of the evidence presented before court during trial showed that Hanse-Himarwa was indeed the actual person who, during her tenure as Hardap Governor, gave a directive that the original list of 19 mass housing beneficiaries be changed.

As per her directive, the names of Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman were replaced with that of Christiana Lorraine Hanse and Justine Josephine Gowases.

According to evidence presented before court during trial, Christiana Lorraine Hanse and Gowases are indeed Hanse-Himarwa's relatives.

Source: Namibia Press Agency