The Aawambo traditional authorities in the northern regions have placed restrictions on the practice where families get blood money from the accused to compensate for a murdered relative. According to Oshiwambo tradition, if one kills – intentionally or unintentionally – the fine against the family of the perpetrator is 10 head of cattle or the equivalent of N$15 000. However, some bereaved families demand the family of a perpetrator should also pay for a coffin, food and drinks for the funeral and the fine normally claimed after the funeral.
Oukwanyama Traditional Authority spokesperson George Nelulu said there is no law that compels families of perpetrators to pay for services rendered during the funeral. Some families however volunteer to help out bereaved families but lately some victims’ families have resorted to demanding money for funeral assistance, which is illegal, according to Nelulu.
“If the perpetrator’s family decides to help out, that is something else. But if the victim’s family demands to be assisted with funeral expenses, then every cent spent will be deducted from the fine and the other family will only pay the difference,” he said.
According to Nelulu, traditional authorities have now made it a point to enquire from the perpetrator’s family if they were forced to contribute to funeral expenses, before any payment is made to the bereaved family “Families are unfairly punished. A man would kill his girlfriend in Windhoek, far from his relatives that are in the north. But the victim’s family would treat that other family as if they were also involved in the murder, yet these are just innocent people that happened to be related to the murderer. They should only pay the fine as stipulated by the traditional authority act, but they should not be punished further,” said Nelulu.
In Oshiwambo tradition, if one kills, intentionally or unintentionally, including involving car and other accidents, the family of the perpetrator has to pay for the victim’s life – even if the murderer is punished by the national courts.