Government has intensified its efforts to rein in mothers who dump their children with grandmothers, fathers who don’t support their offspring, as well as adult children who neglect their parents who don’t have a means of survival. A local human rights lawyer has applauded government for the move, saying that the situation is serious. Yesterday the Ministry of Justice closed the period of consultation for input from the general public on how best to amend the current Maintenance Act to bring to order run-away parents and adult children.
Justice Minister Albert Kawana had, among others, asked Namibians how the State should best deal with biological fathers who tamper with their DNA tests and those who assist them to avoid taking responsibility for their children.
The question of what should be done to fathers who go into hiding to avoid maintenance obligations also surfaced as one the questions that the public had to answer during the consultations. Also, Kawana wanted to know what should be done to mothers or fathers who dump their children with grandparents or other relatives while neglecting to support the children with the maintenance that they receive from partners. The minister furthermore asked what should be done to parents who neglect to maintain their children when they have the means to do so.
The public also gave their input on what should happen to adult children who fail to maintain their parents, when they have the means, and whether the current penal provisions should be revised upwards. The public’s suggestions will now be submitted to Cabinet before amendments are made to the legislation. Norman Tjombe, a local lawyer, welcomed the move saying it is long overdue.
“The law is that people must support their children and parents. What the minister is trying to do is to figure out what should be done in addition to that,” explained Tjombe.
“We have a serious crisis – a lot of children who are not supported are left with the grandparents. Parents are dumping their children with their parents. Children are not taking care of their parents, who cannot take care of themselves.”
He added that the effects are long lasting as this leads to an increased school dropout rate and unemployment. “This is a legitimate concern by the government and this should be addressed with the input of everyone.”