Moms up in arms

17 May 2019 | Justice

Throngs of desperate mothers claim they are being turned away daily from the Rehoboth Maintenance Court, despite the lofty service delivery goals set by the justice ministry under minister Sacky Shanghala.

The women also claim that the lax conduct of maintenance court officials has resulted in child support not being paid on time, or often not at all.

A Namibian Sun investigation found that mothers waited until just before 09:40 on Tuesday to be assisted by chief legal clerk Jennifer Steyn.

Some of the women told Namibian Sun they were returning for the third time, because they had not been previously assisted. Steyn told Namibian Sun she opens the office daily at 09:00 and closes it at 13:00. However, most of the mothers claimed she already leaves the office at 12:00.

Steyn also said she only assists 15 people per day.

One of the mothers, Angela de Klerk, claims Steyn told her that the court does not have the time to look for her father's child.

“But she sends the police every month to come and pick up my husband, who also had a child before our marriage; but my child's father is not treated the same way,” she said.

De Klerk also claimed that Steyn told her they are now very strict and issue warrants of arrests for fathers who are over

N$5 000 in default with maintenance payments.

“But my child's father is in arrears of N$10 800. When I asked her why he is not arrested, she said they cannot find him. So the police can go out of their way to find my husband, but they cannot find a man who works here in Rehoboth at a barbershop near the maintenance court?” De Klerk asked.





Anna de Koe, who is a single mother, said her child's father is also in arrears with more than N$5 000 and he still walks around with no care in the world.

“There are people who I know personally who owe more than N$9 000 in child support, but they walk around, and Steyn cannot explain why they are not arrested,” she said.

De Koe also said Steyn had told her that the court does not have time to look for absent fathers.

“I had to call the sheriff who is responsible for the town where my child's father is living, myself,” she said.

De Koe told Namibian Sun she went to the maintenance court last Tuesday and was told that Steyn was not in, as she was attending to official matters at the town council.

Last Thursday she went to the maintenance court again and was informed by the chief of administration, Jakobus Markus, that Steyn was not in.

“But one of the ladies stood in front of the door and saw that Steyn had locked herself in the office. We then demanded from Markus to come and call her to open the door. He then came and saw her and suddenly told us that she is not well and must go home,” said De Koe.

She added that Steyn allegedly told the women: “I will not help people now. You can go and report me. Call the ombudsman.”

Markus, who spoke on behalf of Steyn, confirmed that she had a personal problem last week.

He denied that she comes late on most days and insisted she is a diligent worker.

When asked to explain why people were only assisted at 09:40 on Tuesday, he said Steyn had several meetings with the prosecutor and other staff in their respective offices.

“The reason we only open the office for the public at 09:00 is because she must prepare charge sheets and court documents in the hour before that. Normally, if a complainant comes to see her then a court date is communicated to them on the same date,” Markus said.

He added the challenge remains that they have no control over summonses.

“But we do call the sheriffs of different towns to confirm with them and then we inform the complainants,” Markus said.

He also said he is not aware that Steyn closes the office at 13:00 every day.

“I have never had a complaint of this nature. My office is just down the way and I can see when she comes in and when she leaves; so I am not aware that she leaves early or comes late,” he said.

Office of the Judiciary spokesperson Ockert Jansen explained that maintenance courts have to schedule their services, depending on which days these services are more in demand.

He explained that they cannot respond to the allegations that Steyn arrives late at the office carrying shopping bags.

“That can probably be hearsay, as we cannot establish that. The issue reported about Thursday was certainly an isolated matter,” he said. Jansen, however, added that their staff are often overcommitted at times, because of the shortage of employees.

According to him Steyn herself has a lot on her plate and must deal with estate claims, liquor licences, the solemnising of marriages, as well as home affairs and reconciliation matters.

Namibian Sun reported in 2018 that nearly half of all active maintenance cases in Namibia's 33 magistrate courts are cases where parents, mostly fathers, have failed to honour court ordered child support payments.

A summary provided by the Office of the Judiciary to Namibian Sun showed that out of 31 104 active maintenance cases before 33 Namibian courts, 15 097 are default cases. Statistics reported show that of the 599 active maintenance cases in Rehoboth alone, 308 involve defaulters.

In Windhoek, 8 290 default cases are before the maintenance court out of a total of 11 479 active cases.

The Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court is dealing with 1 895 default cases out of a total of 2 432 active cases.

In Rundu, of the 1 954 cases,

1 409 involve maintenance defaulters.

JEMIMA BEUKES

Similar News

 

Huang wins again

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Justice

Jinhao Investment CC, of which trade unionist Petrus Nevonga and former Swapo councillor Christian Itope are members, while Jack Huang's membership is still part of...

State sued for N$3.8 million

2 days ago - 18 July 2019 | Justice

A man who was cleared of murder and robbery charges after he had spent more than five years in jail awaiting the completion of his...

B1 City fraud accused loses lawyer

2 days ago - 18 July 2019 | Justice

Hafeni Nghinamwaami, one the three businesspeople implicated in the fraud and corruption case surrounding the B1 City property development project, is without legal representation after...

Mom begs for mercy

3 days ago - 17 July 2019 | Justice

A mother of three minor children is asking the High Court to reduce her four-year prison sentence, or fine her instead, after she pleaded guilty...

Meatco to sue feedlot trustees

4 days ago - 16 July 2019 | Justice

The matter in which Meatco is suing JP Jooste, the owner of Big J Feedlot at Gobabis, for millions in relation to missing cattle has...

Omuniilonga gwaUnam otaka pangulwa

4 days ago - 16 July 2019 | Justice

Oshipotha moka omundungiki moshiputudhilo shoUniversity of Namibia (Unam) a yaha nokweehameka aamwayinathanamati yaali sha ningilwa moRundu, omwedhi Desemba otashi ka pulakenwa muSepetemba.Nelson Antonio, 44,...

Magistrate career down the drain for N$5 500

5 days ago - 15 July 2019 | Justice

YANNA SMITHMelaney Theron has thrown her promising career as a magistrate down the drain for a mere N$5 500.Last Thursday, Judge Nate Ndauendapo found the...

Unam lecturer to be prosecuted

5 days ago - 15 July 2019 | Justice

The case of the University of Namibia (Unam) lecturer, who allegedly shot and wounded two brothers last December in Rundu has been remanded to September....

Same-sex marriages before full bench

5 days ago - 15 July 2019 | Justice

The fate of three Namibians who tied the knot with their same-sex partners in countries where gender is not a barrier to marriage, and who...

Kalenga a kanitha olugodhi luukwaniilwa

5 days ago - 15 July 2019 | Justice

Endopo lyaningwa kuKonisa Eino Kalenga oku pataneka euliko netulo koshipundi shuukwaniilwa lyaFillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo onga omukwaniilwa gwaNdonga pethimbo, ogamwe gomomatompelo kutya omolwashike Omupanguli Thomas Masuku...

Latest News

Making employees feel at home...

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Business

Jonell Malan Human resource management is essentially the management of human resources (HR). It is a function in organisations designed to maximise employee performance in...

Fascinated by consumers

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Business

Evany van Wyk Rozanne van der Merwe comes across as being the epitome of female empowerment and friendliness. And this is exactly who she is....

No dazzling half-year for Namdeb

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Business

Jo-Maré DuddyNamdeb Holdings recorded its worst first half-year since 2016, with diamond production for the six months ended 30 June plummeting by nearly 22% compared...

Vulnerable and alone

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Social Issues

After an initial projection in 2008 that there would be 250 000 orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15 by 2021, President Hage...

Zero cattle on offer at...

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Agriculture

The Oshana Regional Livestock Marketing Cooperative suspects that livestock prices have dropped so low because of the drought that farmers are no longer willing to...

Hope rekindled at Linus Shashipapo

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Education

Hope has been finally been rekindled that Linus Shashipapo Secondary School, which is currently in a sorry state, will be renovated.This comes after a tender...

Resilient and strong

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Business

Mariselle StofbergWith her tenacious attitude, collaborative nature and desire to always learn and draw from other people’s knowledge and experience, Leorine Waggie is clearly on...

Being unapologetically you

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Banking

Mariselle Stofberg Adriano Visagie went from playing in the dusty streets of Katutura to becoming a powerhouse in the entertainment industry and has created...

The great unwind and calls...

1 day - 19 July 2019 | Economics

Lazarus Shigwedha - Balance sheet recessions are the toughest to manage when they occur simultaneously with distressed debt conditions in the wider economy. During balance...

Load More