Why Are Children Beating Their Elders?

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By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI The scourge of drug abuse and lust for money are among the root causes at the core of the sad incidents in which some parents are being seriously assaulted and even killed by their own children in the northern regions. There appears to be a systematic tendency of children beating up and killing their parents without any provocation at all. Most of the incidents happen late at night after drinking sprees. Mostly targeted are pensioners being killed by their own children or grandchildren for not giving them money. It is always a difficult time after old people return home with their money, New Era was told. In an interview with New Era, Chief Herman Ipumbu, the Chairman of the Uukwambi Traditional Authority, said most of the contributing factors to the physical attacks against the old people come from the violent desire to posses money after drinking sprees at shebeens and cuca shops. The desire to possess money sometimes is compounded by unemployment frustrations and the cultural dependency syndrome of young people on their elderly parents. “In our culture your son or daughter can stay with you even if heshe is over 40 years. “If heshe is not employed, the dependency attitudes, which started from childhood, will always continue. In this way the children fail to understand that their parents are no longer energetic enough to support them, as was the case in the past. Instead of them supporting their parents, they continue to demand assistance from their elderly and weak parents,” said Ipumbu. He further pointed out that some of the pensioners are robbed or coerced at the pay-points by their children. Others have appointed their children to receive money on their behalf but do not benefit anything at all. Instead of the money helping the rightful owners, the pensioners, those young people who are entrusted with money by their parents are only benefiting, thus sidelining the pensioners. Chief Ipumbu confirmed two shocking incidents which occurred in his area of jurisdiction. Some years ago Kankono Shiya from Onampila village in Okatana constituency brutally stabbed to death his mother Saara Egiino after the victim failed to give him pension money. Another shocking incident occurred at Othingo village in Oshakati West Constituency when Nehemiah Gabriel Shimbulu was brutally beaten to death with a hammer by his lastborn son. The young man arrived late in the evening at home demanding the personal documents of his father, including the pension card. In 2002, many people were shocked to see an axe protruding from the lifeless head of 85-year- old Helen Gabriel from Ombala Yamumbwenge in Oshigambo constituency. The axe was only removed at the hospital. This was nothing else but the work of old Gabriel’s 21-year-old grandson Hosea Angolo, alias King, who brutally murdered her while she was sleeping in her hut. The violent driving force behind this dastardly act was the N$500 which the young man sensed was being kept by his grandmother. When the police arrested Angolo shortly after the incident he was found with N$400 of the looted money. Only recently, 58-year-old Meschtilde Martin Kashweka from Ehafo village in Ompundja constituency survived a brutal attack with a panga by her second son, 28-year- old Klemens Lenga Simon. The violent incident which happened late in the evening was apparently provoked by her refusal to give back N$100 she was safekeeping for him. While the victim was fighting for her life in the hospital, her son, who also set the house on fire, was arrested by the police at Omatala open market in Oshakati selling fruits as if nothing had happened. The Police Regional Commander in Ohangwena Deputy Commissioner Armas Shivute also concurred that the driving force behind violent attacks against the elderly people is drug abuse. The police chief was speaking shortly after an incident of assault with grievous bodily harm, attempted arson and assault through threatening was opened against the 34-year- old Timoteus Nghishililwa from Omundudu village in Endola constituency. He is facing criminal charges following his violent behaviour and attack against his mother, the 61-year-old Johanna Simon. She apparently suffered a broken arm after being severely beaten by her own son. Many people are still puzzled as to what is going on through the heads of young people who have lost respect for their own parents to such an extent that they don’t even hesitate to physically harm them. New Era sought the views of the Chief Regional Officer of the Ohangwena Regional Council Peter Kondjeni Ndeitwa who claimed that the Namibian nation has lost its moral values. “When we were growing, we were told how to respect our parents or any other elderly person. “We were brought up to be a God-fearing people, praying and gathering around the fire to share ideas from our parents but this essential moral upbringing is no more in Namibia,” he said. “All what we see today is chaos and the disrespect of parents resulting from abuse of alcohol. Many young people are seen drinking with old people and in such a way, they will not respect them anymore. When we were young, we could not come close to old people drinking alcohol. It was a taboo.” Ndeitwa noted that the church influence, which was one of the guiding principles in the past, is also disappearing among many Namibian citizens. For him, the church played a useful role of bringing up responsible and principled people but these days the influence of many things has taken over. “We should also bear in mind that the understanding of the young people in a free and independent Namibia is very deep. “They know their rights more than their obligations and responsibilities. “They know that even if they have committed an offence, they too have rights. “They know the present prisons are not like the colonial ones. “The current prisons are considered as hotels where they can eat all sorts of delicious food and sleep on a bed. “Those who have been there before would want to go back. For them prison is not something they fear much. They know that a democratic constitution is there to protect them, ” noted the Chief Regional Officer. Oshakati Hospital psychiatrist Dr Mnubi Farahani could only cite two or more possibilities which cause the young people to be violent against their own parents: drug abuse and mental illness. “A person who could go to the extent of doing such ugly things to hisher parents could only be influenced by drugs or having the characteristics of a bad person (mentally disturbed),” said Dr Farahani. He urged the parents to report any possible mental related cases to the hospital for proper analysis and consequent treatment.