The head judge of the Kaoko Traditional Authority court in Opuwo, Henny Petrus Muundjua, says the town has a low crime rate due to the presence of traditional courts.
“People in [former] Kaokoland don’t kill each other as much as in other parts of the country. This is because of our presence in this part of the country,” he said. “Our work is very important because we contribute towards the reduction of societal evils. It is not a small thing that we are doing,” Muundjua said in an interview with New Era last week.
“Sometimes the police and courts refer their cases to our courts,” added Muundjua. There are, however, times when the suspects refuse to adhere to the rules of the traditional courts, noted Muundjua. “In such scenarios, they are sent to our office in Windhoek and that office can hand them over to the police,” he explained.
Stock theft and assault are two of the offences that are chronically on the Kaoko Traditional Authority court roll, Muundjua noted. “Punishment of the guilty parties depends on the nature of the offence. The case is thoroughly examined and investigated and based on that a conclusion is reached,” Muundjua said. He further explained that if blood was shed the guilty party has to pay eight cows. One cow is equal to N$1700, he added.
The Kaoko Traditional Authority court convenes for two weeks every month. “The cases take time and as a result in one day we can usually deal with one or two cases,” he said.
Despite the relevance of their work, Muundjua is of the view the allowance that traditional court leaders get from government is an insult to their profession. “We only get N$30 an hour and that is really an insult to us, because we also contribute to the maintenance of law and order.
“What is N$30 per hour in this world where we have to look after our families. It’s embarrassing and we’re not happy with that”, he said.