34 women jailed for killing own children
A chilling example is Rachel Kureva, who was arrested for the murder of her nine-year-old daughter, Akundaishe Natalie Chipomho.
She was apprehended alongside Edward and Caroline Nkata – Chipomho’s biological father and her stepmother.
The girl’s charred remains were discovered in a garbage bin in Windhoek in January 2020 after Kureva, Caroline and Edward - all three Zimbabwean nationals - beat her to death and then set her body on fire.
They were charged with murder and defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
In another shocking case, Kyrkki Shekupe van Wyk (38) was sentenced to 26 years in prison for murdering her four-year-old son in northern Namibia and assaulting one of her other children.
Van Wyk was sentenced to 22 years in prison for murder and eight years for attempted murder. She used sticks and a whip to beat both children all over their bodies, The Namibian reported.
It is unclear whether these statistics include Kristofina Amutenya, the former wife of a Namibian diplomat based in Ethiopia, who allegedly murdered her children Jenay (9) and Jane (3) at their family home in Addis Ababa in December 2020. She walked free from police custody after the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court provisionally withdrew her case on the State’s request.
Responding to a Namibian Sun enquiry, Namibian Police spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi said the most common reasons why women murder their children include postpartum depression, having no means to feed and nurture the child due to unemployment and poverty, and rejection at the hands of their partners.
"According to Van Wyk, she was angry and took her rage out on her children after being assaulted by her then partner."
Van Wyk also informed the court that she was triggered when her former partner introduced her to his new lover.
In cases where the mother gives birth at a young age, the decision to harm a child may be influenced by a lack of financial and psychological support, Shikwambi said.
According to clinical psychologist Dalene Gous, a mother harming her own child is difficult to understand because “most mothers would rather die for their children than murder them”.
Filicide has been connected to suicidal ideation, in which a mother wishes to commit suicide but does not want to leave her child or children behind, she said.
“Suicide is motivated by a profound sense of hopelessness and full abandonment of life,” Gous said.
Meanwhile, 22 women have been imprisoned for illegal abortions since 2018. The year 2020 had the most cases (six), while three were reported in 2018, four in 2019, four in 2021 and five in 2022.
However, according to the police, these figures are likely not indicative of the situation on the ground, with many women successfully committing illegal abortions in secret.
Abortion is criminalised in terms of the Abortion and Sterilisation Act, and the procedure can only be legally performed by a certified medical practitioner if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life; if the pregnancy constitutes a serious threat to the mother’s mental health; if there is a serious risk that the child will suffer from a physical or mental defect, or in the case of rape or incest.