Back to work for Ondonga court

A leadership dispute in the Ondonga Traditional Authority must not influence the operations of the community's traditional court, the justice minister has said.

16 May 2019 | Justice

Justice minister Sackey Shanghala has instructed the Ondonga Traditional Authority Community Court (OTACC) to resume its operations at Onethindi.

This comes after Shanghala suspended the court on 18 May last year and while the Ondonga community continues to be torn apart by a kingship battle.

The justice ministry said in a statement that Shanghala had told the court to resume its operations on 1 May, adding that disagreements in the Ondonga Traditional Authority must not influence it. Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo and Konis Kalenga were both installed as Ondonga king following the funeral of King Immanuel Kauluma Elifas last month.

When King Elifas dismissed some of his traditional councillors in 2017, the majority of whom are justices and assessors of the community court, they started operating from Onethindi, while rival councillors operated from Oluno.

“Community courts, especially the Ondonga community court, play a vital role in administering justice between families for wrongs that have to be righted through a process known as 'wiping away the tears'. When natural justice is not served, the foundations of communities begin to crumble, which in turn erodes justice countrywide,” Shanghala said.

Shanghala said the disfunctionality at the Ondonga community court had led to an increase of cases on the Ondangwa Magistrate's Court roll.

The justices and assessors of community courts are appointed by the justice minister in terms of the provisions of the Community Court Act, 2003 while those who hold positions in traditional authorities are appointed by the head of the traditional authority under the legislation administered by the minister of urban and rural development - the Traditional Authorities Act.

Shanghala said due to this clear distinction in law and in appointment, disagreements in the Ondonga Traditional Authority must not influence the Ondonga community court.

Traditional authority secretary Joseph Asino confirmed they received a communication from Shanghala to resume the community court.

He said since the court was suspended last year, cases have piled up. He said they will inform the Ondonga community soonest about when their matters will be heard.



ILENI NANDJATO

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