SISA Namandje, lawyer of Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa in her corruption case, has insinuated that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) took advantage of State witnesses testifying in the trial, as all the statements gathered for the case have the same wording and were taken at the exact same time.
Namandje was referring to State witness Meriam Nansunga Salyani, Senior Administrator in the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, during cross examination on Wednesday in the Windhoek High Court.
The minister is charged with corruption by the ACC following allegations that she used her position and power as then Hardap governor in 2014 to remove two people from the list of mass housing beneficiaries and replaced them with her niece and sister-in-law.
During cross examination, Namandje asked Salyani if she really knew the criteria used in allocating houses as the statement she made had technical issues.
“Based on the statement you gave here in court, the ministry did not provide a written criterion on allocating houses and what you people did was verbal criteria allocation of which my client raised her dissatisfaction on some beneficiaries on the waiting list,” he said
“It is very clear that you have been innocently used and that the statement was manufactured for you, as how does the ACC agent interview witnesses at the same time but signed on different dates?” he asked.
Namandje stated that, apart from similar wording, the statements also indicate that both her (Salyani) and another State witness indicated that they are the same age although they were born 1972 and 1968, respectively.
“It is very clear that you were either used or part of this wave to incriminate my client. My client is very hurt and feels that her rights were infringed, as all this indicated that the ACC was determined to instruct incriminating evidence against her,” he said.
Salyani, who at times seemed unsure and nervous, said that she, along with the CEO of Mariental Municipality, Priscilla Beukes, led the teams in finalizing and allocating houses to the 19 beneficiaries based on a ‘verbal criteria guideline’ that according to her, did not come from the ministry.
In her testimony, she mentioned that the ministry allocated houses based on a code level housing plan, which is dependent on the monthly salary wages of the beneficiary.
“Councillors, the mayor and CEO were called into the meeting and briefed on the final list. After that, the CEO told us that two people were removed and replaced by two others, with the ones removed to be accommodated in Phase 2 slated for February 2015,” she said.
According to Salyani, Beukes said that Piet Fransman and Regina Kuhlman were removed to accommodate Justine Gowases and Christina Hansen, allegedly on instructions from Hanse-Himarwa.
The trial continues this week under Judge Christie Liebenberg.