Mixed feelings on Hanse-Himarwa’s sentence

01 Aug 2019 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 01 AUG (NAMPA) – There has been a strong reaction to former Education, Arts and Culture minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa receiving a N.dollars 50 000 fine and suspended prison sentence for corruptly using her position for gratification.
Post her sentencing for changing a mass housing list at Mariental to benefit two family members in her earlier capacity as Hardap Region governor, Nampa spoke to legal experts, members of the public and the anti-graft body to gauge their views on the sentence.
Lawyer Stanley Kavetu believes Hanse-Himarwa’s fine was “way too low”, considering her economic standing and admittance that she has “deep pockets”.
The young lawyer went on to suggest that in his sentencing, High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg did not show how the sentence serves as a deterrent to future perpetrators of similar crimes.
“The sentencing only deals with deterring [Hanse-Himarwa] from corruption because there is that cloud hanging over her head and that if she commits another corrupt activity she will be sent to prison. But it does not deter any other Namibian from committing corruption,” he said.
Nelius Becker, an investigator at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), argued in his personal capacity that the sentence was too light.
Becker on his Facebook page said “a big precedent was set that will haunt all future cases”.
“Don’t you think it’s too light? It [sentence] should serve as a deterrent. People in the lower courts are sentenced to longer periods in prison for similar cases. We had a police officer who was sentenced to three years for taking a bribe of N.dollars 500, but here we have a politician who was just given a fine. What type of deterrent is that? That is my personal opinion, not that of the ACC,” he told Nampa when approached.
Another lawyer, Natjirikasorua Tjirera, had different views from those of Kavetu and Becker.
“The sentence in my considered opinion is fair because the minister did not benefit herself directly and it does not involve money per se,” he said.
Echoing Tjirera’s sentiments, legal expert Steven Ndorokaze premised his opinion on deterrence, restitution and rehabilitation.
He said public interest must not be conflated with public expectation, adding the convicted parliamentarian should not be used as a scapegoat.
“It is a balanced sentence. You cannot send someone to jail just because others escaped the net,” he said.
ACC Director, Paulus Noa, was also pleased with the judgment.
“I am happy that the judge took the factor of deterrence into consideration, hence in addition to a fine, he imposed a suspended term of imprisonment which will remain an albatross around the neck of the convict for the next five years,” Noa said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor General Ed Marondedze who represented the State in this case indicated that they are yet to decide if they would appeal the sentence or not.
“We will have to study the sentence and decide on the way forward,” he told Nampa immediately after the sentencing.