By Staff Reporter
The trial of former education minister Katrina Hanse Himarwa has now reached completion following a day in court in which she pleaded for mercy this week.
Himarwa’s fate now hangs in the balance until Wednesday the 31st of July when High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg will pronounce her sentence.
The state prosecutor who is also the deputy Prosecutor General, Zimbabwean born Ed Marondedze pushed for the former minister to be locked up in jail.
However, her lawyer, Sisa Namandje pleaded for a sentence with a blend of mercy arguing that his client was a first time offender who had lived a crime-free life since she joined the public office.
Himarwa was found guilty of having used her governor office to remove two beneficiaries in the mass housing project in Mariental in place for her relatives.
Pleading for mercy, Namandje submitted that the former minister had suffered financial losses due to the court case and had a legal bill to the amount of N$1.4 million. He said although she has paid part of it, she still has an outstanding amount of nearly N$1 million.
He also said that her immediate resignation from the ministry of education automatically meant she lost out on her remuneration which used to be worth N$1 million per annum. The remaining amount will be footed by 1 August this year, he told the judge. Her salary was thus cut by N$300 000, Namandje said adding that on top of that, Himarwa was taking care of her aged mother who was suffering from a cardiac problem as well as a husband with High Blood Pressure.
He said that she was also a mother to children who were not employed and still had to take care of members of the extended family.
“Any sentence that will take her away will bring harm on her mother,” Namandje pleaded adding that she had expressed remorse by issuing an apology to her political constituency and the community at large. He said there has been a distortion of her natural character by the media while admitting that by law any person in Namibia who commits a crime has to account.
However the lawyer submitted that there are people who had been initially implicated in the mass housing saga at Mariental who should also have been prosecuted the same way as his client.
“Other people should have been taken to task because we abhor corruption,” he argued adding that it was natural that during economic hardships society is always upset with public officials who commit corruption. “It’s an annoyance, they resort to crude language,” he said and pleaded with the Judge that the crime did not warrant that she be sent to the jail. A fine of N$35 000 would suffice, he submitted.
As far as the state prosecutor is concerned, this case is a perfect opportunity for society to see that government officials should not take advantage of their positions.
Marondedze wants direct imprisonment for the former minister.
The Patriot has this year reported that 2019 would be a year that will either crush or propel Himarwa’s political career.
Judge Liebenberg’s verdict dismissed her claim that there had been a conspiracy to get rid of her by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). He said there was no evidence to that effect.
Secondly, the judge, threw out of the window her allegation that the ACC had colluded with state witnesses by exercising undue influence on them to fabricate statements with incriminating evidence against her. He said the age and intellectual backgrounds of the witnesses were not of such a nature that they could be prevailed upon by the corruption watch-dog, while they also denied such an allegation.
The judge found that Himarwa had been tried via a fair trial before he ruled that indeed she used her influence as governor of Hardap to sneak in the names of her relatives by removing two people.
Witnesses have also testified that she challenged the authority of ministerial officials arguing that she knew the locals of Mariental better. Another accusation was that she expressed that she had not been properly consulted in the drafting of the housing master list and went further to say that the mass housing project should not benefit non-Swapo members.