No Traditional Trials Allowed in the City – Shitongeni

KHOMAS Regional Council chairperson Zulu Shitongeni says traditional court hearings should be held at the villages because they are not welcome in the Khomas region.

Shitongeni was lashing out at some Khomas community leaders who reportedly mediate civil and criminal cases, particularly in the Okuryangava and Ombwayalyatotina informal settlements.

“They must not come here and bring their traditional elements to the city where they are not recognised – they should keep them in the villages,” stressed Shitongeni. “I’m a traditional headman from Oshali village myself, but here in Windhoek, I’m the Khomas chairman,” he said. He said no traditional authority was allowed to conduct hearings in any city or town except the Khomanin Traditional Authority, the only one with its offices in Windhoek.

Shitongeni, who was addressing members of the Tobias Hainyeko constituency over the weekend, also said traditional leaders are “just visitors” in urban areas and should limit their jurisdiction to their home villages. He particularly pointed out some Kavango and Aawambo traditional authorities whom he said were guilty of this practice.

Shitongeni condemned community leaders imposing punishment on people and making money through settling disputes, and demanding compensation in the form of cattle in the name of their respective royal houses.

“Community leaders are elected to ensure that municipal services are delivered to the people in their respective constituencies, not to act as headmen. They do not have that power,” he stressed.

Community leader and chairperson of the Tobias Hainyeko constituency in Windhoek, Johannes Hamunyera confirmed that there were some community leaders in some constituencies who appoint themselves as traditional leaders.

“Community leaders are accountable to the City, they should not be conducting trials behind the backs of traditional chiefs,” he said. Hamunyera said there are two headmen from Kavango East and West who were appointed by their respective chiefs to represent their royal houses in Windhoek.

“These two headmen do not resolve cases, they only receive the cases and refer them to the community court in Kavango, but the trouble comes in when community leaders appoint themselves as headmen and start mediating community disputes,” he said.

One of the Windhoek-based headmen from the Ukwangali Traditional Authority, Hamunyera Hambyuka, who is also a Swapo member of parliament, denied that he was conducting traditional trials in Windhoek. He claims that he was only appointed as a facilitator on behalf of the traditional authority for members of the Ukwangali tribe who reside in Windhoek. “My job is only to send cases to the community court in Kavango and to ensure that people turn up on time for their hearing at the community court,” he said.

Source : The Namibian