Mupini youth testify in ‘witchcraft’ slur case

28 October 2020 | Local News



The fate of 17 young people from Mupini village in the Kavango West Region, who were fined two cows or N$4 000 each by the Mbunza Traditional Authority in June for making derogatory comments on WhatsApp, including accusations that a local headwoman practises witchcraft, will be determined on 11 November.

The 17 were initially tried and found guilty at village headwoman Frieda Neromba’s home in June, but they refused to pay their fines.

They were then summoned to appear before the community court, which is recognised by law, in August.

They stormed out of that sitting, saying they had not been given a chance to state their case.

They were again summoned to appear before the community court on 20 October.

The hearing took place at the Mbunza Traditional Authority Tribunal at Kapako, where they were questioned by Chief Alfons Kaundu.

The complainant, Mupini headwoman Neromba, was also in attendance.

Eleven of the 17 accused testified, with the remaining six expected to testify on 11 November.

Witchcraft accusation

The group members are adamant that they did nothing wrong.

The case stems from comments on a youth development WhatsApp group called Mupini Village Matters, which has 123 members.

One of the members accused Neromba of practising witchcraft. “Today the headwoman will hear my anger through my mouth. If there is witchcraft, I can be witched,” the person wrote.

Governor’s involvement

Namibian Sun earlier reported that the issue stems from frustration about sand mining at the village.

Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo is said to be conducting sand mining on the floodplains near the Okavango River.

However, in an interview Wakudumo said he was no longer directly involved in the sand mining. After assuming public office, his son Bernhard took over the business, he said.

Wakudumo claimed the youth group demanded payment from the sand miners.

“They were getting in the way of the business which my son is currently running. I only got involved when I was at Mupini, the village where my wife is from, and we were collecting sand because we were busy building there. I told them they should seek answers from the headwoman,” Wakudumo said.

Community benefitted

During the community court hearing, Chief Kaundu said N$10 000 of the N$25 000 paid by Wakudumo to the traditional authority was used to provide shade for the elderly waiting for their monthly pension payments.

Kaundu said the remaining N$15 000 was in the authority’s bank account.

He called on young people to come up with ideas to develop their community with the money.

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