Senior Headman Accused of Cheating and Abuse

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By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI The senior headman of Onamutayi, Traditional District, Amon Sheefeni Shipanga, is accused by a widow of having cheated her of more than N$50 000 of her money which was supposed to have been paid to her as the legitimate owner of the land from which gravel is mined by private construction companies. Rachel Kakoto, a 46-year-old unemployed widow of the late Paulus Jeremia of Omusheshe village in Okatana constituency, claimed in her complaint that the senior headman took the main share of what was supposed to be her income alone. According to the complainant, Shipanga and Nexus Civil Engineering Company concluded an agreement on November 19, 2005 without her consent by which the money will only be paid to the senior headman who will use his own discretion to pay whatever he wants to her. In terms of the agreement, Nexus will pay N$15 per truckload directly into the personal account of Shipanga. Before the death of her husband in 2004, Kakoto claimed, the money used to be paid directly to the deceased but Shipanga took over after his death. The senior headman is not related to Kakoto or the deceased. “All material taken will be paid directly to Headman A. Shipanga at the agreed price of N$15 a truckload. Truckloads will be counted by Nexus and the owner and paid every end of the month to the headman and community,” states the agreement. Although the community is cited as one of the beneficiaries in the agreement, it appears nothing has been paid to theÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ local community so far. Such money is only paid to Shipanga as an individual as part of what some people referred to as his self-enrichment scheme. This is apparently in conflict with the procedures which are required to be followed in order to benefit the community concerned. Oukwanyama Traditional Authority (OTA) spokesperson, Michael Heita, condemned the practice as illegal and unfair because the money was supposed to be paid into an institution such as OTA but not into an account of an individual for his personal gain only. Heita further noted that there is an element of unfairness and exploitation with regard to senior headmen in general when they take over district leadership. Such leaders at the district level are not required by customary laws to pay anything, but once in power they continue to exploit their subordinates without mercy under the pretext that they are the owners of the land as if they have paid something for it. The OTA spokesperson also complained about such senior traditional leaders, that they are the only ones entitled to receive monthly government allowances while village headmen who are already worse off are not receiving anything. Approached for comment, acting Chief Regional Officer Lovisa Oosthuizen declined to comment on whether the Oshana Regional Council as a regional organ of the central government is also entitled to have a share in any wealth taken underground for the development activities of the region. Oosthuizen said she was not familiar with the situation as she was only acting on behalf of her seniors who were out of town. Documents in possession of New Era detailed some of the payments made to Shipanga by Nexus and what he has paid to the widow using his own discretion. Some of the payments were made as follows: July 3, 2006, Nexus paid the headman N$5 205 of which only N$800 was paid to the widow; September 28, 2006 – N$18 030 was paid of which N$7 500 was paid to the widow; March 3, 2006 the widow received N$2 360 and the senior headman kept N$2 360; July 31, 2006 – N$6 900 was paid to the headman of which N$2 800 was paid to the widow. After she reportedly complained, he added N$200 more. On November 1, 2006, Nexus paid the senior headman N$15 210 and the widow did not get anything. Sources told New Era that what has been revealed so far with regard to the money paid to Shipanga by Nexus is just the tip of the iceberg since more money is believed to have been involved. The amount cited above only includes payment from July to November 2006 but not the money from the day of the agreement November 19,2005, to June 2006 which is not yet revealed. Another complaint related to money-making involving Shipanga concerns a stone crusher, which he has allegedly imposed on the land of Ndatala Shitongeni at Omusheshe village for payment of N$6 000. The crusher belongs to Nexus, one of the companies currently formalizing town lands in Ongwediva, Oshakati, Uukwangula, Eheke, Eenhana, Omuthiya, Okahao and many other places in the North. Further complaints concerning the senior headman were related to this reporter by another resident of Omusheshe village, Nalweendo Margaret Weyulu, 58, who said she was last year summoned to Efululula by Shipanga to be instructed that he was also to benefit from the gravel sand pit in her mahangu field. Weyulu was summoned together with her village headman Ndeulita Hamukoto to make sure that the money paid by Nexus should be forwarded to him (Shipanga). So far she has paid him N$2 200. “I am not happy with what is happening to me but I cannot do anything as a woman and subordinate of the traditional authorities,” said Weyulu who is currently unemployed. Previously the money used to be paid directly to her brother Valombola Weyulu, but since his death last year, the senior headman is just doing what he wants with them, she complained. Shipanga, who became a senior headman of Onamutayi traditional district in 1997 after the death of his uncle Johannes Kalimbo Kalomho, is being accused by some of his subordinates of being a short tempered authoritarian ruler who sometimes does not respect the basic human rights of his people. Although he came to power through the practice of customary laws of the community which allow the nominated individuals to become leaders in their respective villages upon the death of the incumbent, he has apparently made himself guilty of violating the same laws which brought him to power by denying others the right to inherit the estates of their relatives as per customary law. Only recently Shipanga was in the news when he stormed out of the meeting with the Omatando community where he went with ten village headmen to impose one of his cronies, Simon Kaupa Mwatotele, as the village headman of Omatando. This is despite the fact that Kaupa, a native of Ohalushu village in Ohangwena region, is already a headman of another village at Efidi Lomulunga near Ongwediva, some 15 kilometres away. Although someone was nominated to be the headman of Omatando, just the same way Shipanga was nominated by his late uncle Kalomho to be the senior headman of Onamutayi district, he (Shipanga) did not want to confirm the nominated candidate as per customary law. Currently there is confusion in the leadership of Elyambala sub-district, allegedly caused by Kaupa and Shipanga, because they are busy plotting to unseat sub-senior headman Wilbard Abed Nghishitelwa. Shipanga, who is related to Nghishitelwa (but who are not on good terms) wants to install Kaupa as sub-senior headman of Elyambala in order to be in charge of other villages under the sub-district including Omatando, Onawa, Oshinyadhila, Ohakweenyanga, Onheleiwa, Okatope, Okaandje and others. Already Nghishitelwa has been forced to leave Elyambala for his native village of Oikango, not only by the development activities of Ongwediva town but also as a result of frustration at being undermined and pushed aside by Kaupa and Shipanga. This reporter was also informed about a looming conflict between Kaupa and Shipanga on the one side and the headman of Onawa village Job Sheehama following what they (Kaupa and Shipanga) considered to be insubordination and underhand activities on the part of Sheehama. The conflict stems from the fact that when Sheehama became headman of Onawa village upon the death of his brother Killian in 2002, he paid over to sub-senior headman Nghishitelwa and not Shipanga as the senior headman. Another issue which created bad blood between the two parties is the alleged involvement of Sheehama in a stock theft syndicate in 2000 when he was an assistant to his brother. This matter is pending before the traditional court at Ohangwena. New Era was also reliably informed that the residents of Omutemo village in Endola constituency are up in arms over what they consider to be Shipanga’s underhand practices of imposing a certain Abraham Nghilifa Kalipi on them as their headman. Omutemo village was under the late Herman Kanghundi Kakelo who died in 2003. His son Ndemukula, who served only for three years and passed away, succeeded him. His family as per customary law nominated his younger brother Petrus to be in charge, but Shipanga declined this. Instead, he appointed an outsider, Kalipi, a teacher at Ehafo Primary School. Commenting on the allegations, Shipanga denied any wrongdoing concerning traditional matters. With regard to the money paid to him by Nexus and the alleged exploitation of the widow, he admitted having received N$17 000 from Nexus for the last two months only (January and February 2007) of which the amount was shared equally with the widow (N$4 000 each) and N$1 000 was paid to the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority. He said he has not mistreated the widow or misappropriated any money.