HISTORY was made when Judge Christie Liebenberg found the Minister Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, a sitting Member of Parliament, guilty on charges of corruption in the Windhoek High Court.
“I was not persuaded by the defence that the accused was wrongfully charged. The state has proved the accused person’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt and it has been established that the accused clearly abused her power to her satisfaction, ensuring that at least one of her relatives benefitted from the mass housing project.”
In his judgement the judge Liebenberg found that the accused person did not take the court into her confidence.
“She deliberately decided to mislead the court that the meeting of 16 December did not take place. That was a blatant lie. Her version was rendered false beyond reasonable doubt. I therefore found the accused person guilty.”
While reading his judgement Judge Liebenberg stated that the issue of the striking similarities in witness statements is a practice that should be discouraged, even when witnesses relate to similar instances.
He found that the Anti-corruption Commission agents formed no part of a scheme to incriminate the accused or constitute an irregularity.
“I found these witnesses credible. Claims that they falsely incriminated the suspect are preposterous and unsubstantiated”
While the court was taking a short recess after the guilty verdict was handed down, the education minister said: “This is nothing.”
When the court resumed State Advocate Ed Marondedze informed the court that by law the accused person should be taken into custody until sentencing is handed down.
“However, we will await an application of extension of the warning and I will consider the merits of the application,” Advocate Marondedze informed thecourt.
Ndili Ndaitwah for defence informed the court: “My client has stood her trial despite being on warning. There is no evidence to suggest that she will not stand before court for sentencing.
Judge Liebenberg approved the application to set the convicted person free on warning until 24 July when she has to return to court for purposes of sentencing. Judge Liebenberg set the sentencing procedures down for 24 to 26 July when argument for mitigation and aggravation of sentence will be heard.
“Obviously the judgement has a bearing on my political career. I will study the judgement with my lawyer and take it from there. This is however not the end,” Hanse-Himarwa said after the court was adjourned.