Hambukushu chief crossed the line in murder ruling
10 September 2021 | Justice
The decision by Hambukushu Traditional Authority leader Erwin Munika Mbambo recently to adjudicate over a matter and fine eight people linked to a murder was illegal because community courts may not preside over murder cases, government said.
Justice minister Yvonne Dausab told Namibian Sun this week that community courts have no jurisdiction to adjudicate over murder or rape cases.
Various media outlets reported on the verdict and sentencing of the case by the Hambukushu Traditional Authority, which fined eight people who are allegedly linked to the death of 22-year-old Ryan Frederick Kanyanga Mukuve.
Mukuve was a student at the University of Namibia’s Rundu campus who went missing on 18 June. His body was found floating on the Okavango River at Kapako village on 25 June.
The police autopsy revealed that Mukuve was murdered.
The community staged several protests seeking justice for Mukuve, which resulted in the deceased’s family turning to a private investigator and the traditional authority.
15 cattle for a life
At the same time, the police have been looking into the case.
Investigations are still ongoing, Kavango East police regional commander, Commissioner Johanna Ngondo, said.
Despite this, the Hambukushu Traditional Authority decided to proceed with the matter, summoning eight people – one of them a police officer – to face trial in a traditional court.
They were subsequently fined either N$22 500 or 15 cattle each.
According to Dausab, justices at community courts are also not allowed to adjudicate over a matter which is being investigated by the police or ongoing in a state court of law.
“Justices for the community courts are trained to ensure that before every matter is adjudicated, it is confirmed that a case is not registered with the police or that the matter is not ongoing in a magistrate’s court to avoid an occurrence of double jeopardy,” the minister explained.
Meanwhile, according to private detective Ervin Kapinga, the eight people were fined by the traditional authority for the manner in which they conducted themselves when the deceased disappeared on 18 June.
“They were fined because of the way they handled the issue. For example, those who were with the deceased claimed that he ran away, but there is no one in the community who saw the deceased running away and there is no mention of them chasing after him,” he said.
“The person who found the mobile phone of the deceased that Friday only came to reveal it on Monday while he knew where the deceased stays, and the family, for that matter. That is why the traditional authority fined them.”
Senior headman of the Hambukushu Traditional Authority Erwin Disho declined to comment.