15 March 2019

Namibia: ACC Chief Testifies in Hanse-Himarwa Trial

Anti-Corruption Commission director general Paulus Noa was satisfied that evidence collected by the ACC when it investigated allegations around the allocation of government-funded houses at Mariental more than four years ago showed that a misuse of office, constituting corrupt practice, had taken place.

THE Anti-Corruption Commission referred the names of three people to the Office of the Prosecutor General as possible suspects to be charged over changes made to a list of mass housing project beneficiaries at Mariental near the end of 2014, ACC director general Paulus Noa confirmed in testimony heard in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Testifying as a state witness in the trial of education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, Noa told judge Christie Liebenberg that the ACC launched an investigation in the wake of allegations published in the media about people having been removed from a list of beneficiaries of a mass housing project at Mariental.

He said at the end of the investigation, he was satisfied that the evidence gathered by ACC investigators pointed to a crime of corruption having been committed, and he then referred the case to the Office of the Prosecutor General in March 2016 for a decision to be taken on whether anyone had to be prosecuted, or not.

The power to decide whether to prosecute anyone lay with the prosecutor general alone, and not with the ACC, Noa said.

The letter of referral that accompanied the docket of evidence sent to the PG's office included three names that came up during the investigation as possible suspects who may have committed a corrupt act, Noa said. The names mentioned on the letter were those of Hanse-Himarwa, Hardap regional councillor Edward Wambo, and Alex Kamburute, who was the mayor of Mariental when changes were made to a list of people who were to receive houses built under the mass housing development programme at Mariental.

"They could be possible suspects in this matter," Noa explained the mentioning of the names in his referral letter to the PG.

"The totality of the evidence that was gathered points to the fact that somebody must have misused his power or position, and that constitutes a corrupt practice," he said.

The PG eventually decided, about two years after the matter was first referred to her office, to charge only Hanse-Himarwa with a count of the corrupt use of her former office or position as governor of the Hardap region.

The charge is based on allegations that Hanse-Himarwa in December 2014 interfered in the allocation of houses that the government built at Mariental by having two people taken off the list of beneficiaries of the housing project, and having them replaced by two of her relatives.

Hanse-Himarwa denied guilt on that charge when her trial began before judge Liebenberg in October last year.

During the trial so far, four state witnesses - including Kamburute - have told the court that Hanse-Himarwa expressed her dissatisfaction over a list of 19 people who were to receive homes built under the mass housing development programme during a handover ceremony at Mariental on 17 December 2014, and that she identified two people whose names she wanted to be taken off the list, and two people whose names she wanted to be placed on the list instead. Hanse-Himarwa has disputed the correctness of that testimony.

With the trial postponed at the end of Noa's testimony, Hanse-Himarwa has to appear in court again on Tuesday next week for a date to be set for the continuation of the trial.

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