Education Minister denies altering mass housing list

02 Apr 2019 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 02 APR (NAMPA) –Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa on trial in the High Court of corruption on Tuesday denied any involvement in the matter she is charged with.
Hanse-Himarwa is charged with the alleged removal of names of beneficiaries on the Mass Housing Project in Mariental and replacing them with names of her family members.
“I never placed my relatives on a list of mass housing beneficiaries at Mariental while I was governor of the Hardap Region. I also did not replace some original beneficiaries on the list so that my relatives would benefit. I never gave instructions for people to be removed from or to be added on the list, ” said Hanse-Himarwa in her evidence-in-chief before court on Tuesday.
According to papers before court, the names of Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman were removed from the list of 19 beneficiaries and replaced with the names of Christiana Lorraine Hanse and Justine Josephine Gowases, allegedly on the instructions of the accused minister.
Furthermore, Hanse-Himarwa dismissed the prosecution's allegations that she ordered the removal of the two people from the list on the basis of their political party affiliations.
“I did not instruct the municipal officials at Mariental to remove anybody from the list of mass housing beneficiaries on the basis of political affiliation. I also did not give any directive to the local authority officials at Mariental to change the list of the beneficiaries because I did not have the power to influence the change on the list,” said the minister.
Meanwhile, Hanse-Himarwa admitted and personally confirmed before court today that Justine Josephine Gowases is indeed her distant relative.
“Justine Josephine Gowases is a distant relative of me and she is a relative that I do not have close relationship. Justine Gowases is my mother's sister’s daughter's child. She is in fact a grand child of my mother's sister,” said Hanse-Himarwa while under cross-examination by Deputy Prosecutor Ed Marondedze.
Former Mariental Mayor Alex Kamburute in his evidence before court in November last year 2018, however, said Hanse-Himarwa allegedly wanted the names of two people removed from the beneficiary list during a meeting at the office of the former governor in December 2014.
At the beginning of her trial in October 2018, the 51-year-old Hanse-Himarwa denied committing the offence when she pleaded not guilty to the charge against her.
In a statement presented before court, Hanse-Himarwa said she never used her office or position for gratification when she was Hardap governor.
Also testifying before court in November 2018, the former chief executive officer of the Mariental Municipality, Paulus Nghiwilepo told the court she allegedly instructed him to remove two names from the list and replace them with names she gave him.
Windhoek defence lawyer Sisa Namandje is defending the accused minister.
The trial continues before High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg until 15 April 2019.