Namibia: Minister's Corruption Trial Verdict in July

EDUCATION minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa is set to hear on 8 July if she has been convicted or acquitted of corruption in connection with the allocation of government-financed houses at Mariental to two of her relatives near the end of 2014.

Judge Christie Liebenberg postponed the delivery of his judgement in Hanse-Himarwa's trial to 8 July after the hearing of oral arguments from the prosecution and Hanse-Himarwa's defence lawyer in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

The judge said he would try to have his judgement ready by 8 July - but he would notify the prosecution and the defence beforehand if he did not manage to get the judgement completed by then.

Having tried during Hanse-Himarwa's trial, which started in late October last year, to paint the charge and prosecution against her as having been manufactured and orchestrated by Anti-Corruption Commission investigators, defence lawyer Sisa Namandje said near the end of his address to the court yesterday: "This is a spoiled trial. It can never be safe to rely on these witnesses. They were corrupted."

Namandje also charged that there had been "massive manipulation" of witnesses' evidence during the ACC's investigation of allegations against his client.

Hanse-Himarwa (52) is being prosecuted on a charge of corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification for herself or another person.

The prosecution alleges she corruptly used her former position as Hardap governor in December 2014 to have the names of two people taken off a list of people selected to receive houses built at Mariental under the government's mass housing development programme, and that she had the names of two of her relatives placed on the list instead.

Testifying in her defence last month, Hanse-Himarwa denied that she had any changes made to the list of housing project beneficiaries, and also told the court that as governor she did not have the power to direct municipal officials at Mariental or officials from the housing ministry to make changes to the list.

However, four of the 17 state witnesses who testified during the trial told the court Hanse-Himarwa was dissatisfied with the list of people selected to receive houses built at Mariental under the mass housing programme. The witnesses further said she ordered the removal of two names from the list and the insertion of the names of her sister-in-law and a daughter of a cousin of hers in the place of the removed names.

Deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze argued on Tuesday that the state proved Hanse-Himarwa's guilt on the charge "beyond any shadow of a doubt", and asked to judge to find her "guilty - very guilty - as charged".

Continuing with his oral arguments for a second day yesterday, Namandje remarked that in Africa, politicians have always used the criminal justice system to press charges - especially of corruption - against their competitors.

Namandje also argued that there were "material contradictions" in the testimony given by the witnesses who claimed that Hanse-Himarwa directed that changes had to be made to the list of housing beneficiaries. The true picture of events had not been conveyed to the court, Namandje claimed.

In his reply to the defence's arguments, Marondedze said politics played no role in the case. The court did not hear any evidence during the trial that indicated the charge against Hanse-Himarwa was as a result of politics, he said.

Marondedze has been representing the prosecution together with state advocate Salomon Kanyemba.

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