Namibia: Another Swapo Politician Convicted of Corruption

SWAPO local authority councillor for the Municipality of Otjiwarongo Hilde Noreses was convicted of corruption in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate's Court last Tuesday.

Magistrate Marilize du Plessis found the ruling party politician guilty of corruptly soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept gratification by an agent as an incentive.

On this Noreses has contravened sections 35, 46, 49 and 50 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003.

She was ordered to pay a fine of N$50 000, or serve a prison sentence of two years.

Asked whether she was going to step down, Noreses responded, saying: "No comment."

Swapo coordinator for the Otjozondjupa region Susan Hikopua says she was not aware of Noreses'conviction as she was on sick leave.

Swapo spokesperson Hilma Nicanor referred The Namibian to the Otjozondjupa region's leadership when contacted for comment.

"I have not been in the office due to Covid-19. Call those in that particular district," she said.

Noreses was arrested in 2018 after she tried to solicit a bribe from a taxpayer to write off outstanding tax payments.

Nelius Becker, then Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chief of investigations, said the involved taxpayer approached Noreses about the outstanding payments.

Namibian Sun at the time reported that the taxpayer was approached several times by tax officials about the penalty she had to pay. The constant contact with the taxpayer gave the ACC an indication that Noreses was trying to solicit a bribe, after which they set her a trap.

Becker at the time said Noreses asked for a bribe of N$50 000 beforehand and N$40 000 afterwards to write off the penalties on the outstanding tax.

Imms Namaseb, Swapo's coordinator for Otjiwarongo, yesterday said the district executive committee would request Noreses to present her side of the story.

"We will then make our recommendations to the politburo based on the rules and procedures and constitution of Swapo. We will do it virtually, but we need to do it fast. We don't condone corruption, but procedures have to be followed," he said.

Otjiwarongo mayor Gotlieb Shivute was not available for comment.

Noreses is the third Swapo politician to be convicted of corruption.

In October 2018 Swapo parliamentarian Tobie Aupindi and businessman Antonio di Savino were found guilty of corruptly providing an ACC officer with false information.

The charge was based on the allegation that Aupindi and Di Savino lied to an ACC investigator in March and April 2010 by telling him that Aupindi himself had paid N$50 000 in cash for the installation of a swimming pool at his house in Windhoek in 2006, while they knew Di Savino had actually paid for the pool.

In August 2019 former minister of education, arts and culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa was found guilty on a charge of corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification on 8 July. She resigned as minister the next day.

The charge was based on evidence that Hanse-Himarwa in December 2014, when she was still the governor of the Hardap region, interfered in the allocation of houses constructed at Mariental as part of the government's mass housing development programme.

She removed two people from the list of beneficiaries of the housing project, and replaced them with her sister-in-law and the daughter of a cousin of hers.

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