Wife fined for husband's suicide

A woman must pay 15 cattle or N$30 000 following her husband's suicide after she caught him cheating.

24 May 2019 | Cultural

The justice ministry has condemned the Gciriku Traditional Authority for ordering a woman to pay 15 head of cattle or N$30 000 for the death of her husband, who committed suicide.

The order was handed down to Hendrika Shiputa, 38, during her appearance in the traditional authority's court on 23 April, after it found her guilty of the death of her husband, Mukwangu Haingura Mukwangu.

He committed suicide on 28 February by hanging himself.

The incident was confirmed by the police in Kavango East, who said there was no foul play involved.

The ministry's deputy director of community courts, Amelia Nathanael, told Nampa on Tuesday although the traditional authority does not fall under her jurisdiction, she decided to follow up the case.

“The case is not a community court case matter, but people cannot be treated this way,” Nathanael said.

She said she was further informed that the traditional authority also hears matters it should not, adding that community court officials are trained to deal with these kinds of issues.

She therefore advised that Shiputa take the case to the local magistrate's court for an appeal, before stating that community court cases are normally sent to her office for review.

In an interview with Nampa and in a complaint letter addressed to the office of the ombudsman, Shiputa said she allegedly found her husband with another woman after they had come back from her home village where they worked on their mahangu field.

She said her husband did not take the news of her finding out well and allegedly threatened to kill her.

“I informed the Ndiyona police station but was told to open a case against him, which I did.

However my husband committed suicide by hanging himself not far from my homestead,” she explained.

Her family gave two cattle, two goats, a bag of mahangu and N$3 200 for the purchase of the coffin and towards the burial of her husband, but his family reported the case to the traditional authority, which found her guilty.

Asked how they arrived at this verdict, Gciriku Traditional Authority secretary Nando Lipayi said Shiputa was found guilty by headman Josef Shashipapo because her husband committed suicide at her home village and she had to pay for the tears of her husband's family.

Legal practitioner and human rights activist, Norman Tjombe said the incident is an appalling case of blatant injustice.

“It perpetuates the age-old view that a woman is to be blamed for the adulterous conduct of her husband. That decision by the traditional court goes against every sense of justice,” Tjombe said.


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