About 730 new cases have been opened for child maintenance this year with the magistrates’ subdivision for maintenance, compared to last year when 945 cases were recorded.
Among the new cases recorded, close to 10 cases were opened by men seeking child support from the mothers of their children.
Maintenance officer William Nathinge from Katutura Magistrate’s court says some men are too ashamed to apply for child maintenance.
“Due to societal stigma men are not keen on opening cases to seek for child maintenance,” said Nathinge, adding that men who seek child support from women are often met with a social backlash and ridicule and as a result men tend to suffer in silence.
Court records show that the men who are courageous enough to demand child support are mostly unemployed or in circumstances where the woman earns more money.
Nathinge emphasised that more and more men walk in on a daily basis to lay complaints, but rarely find the courage to officially open a case with the maintenance officer.
He said although their office is supposed to deal with matters of child support, the public tend to use the paternity test services most frequently to determine who the biological father is.
Although women regularly file cases to claim child maintenance, the men in question rarely show up and it is very difficult for the division to follow up on all cases of absconding or neglectful parents, as the division is understaffed.
Nathinge said the maintenance division does not have enough personnel, adding that currently there is no investigative officer.
The lack of personnel at the court makes it difficult to conduct a thorough investigation once a complaint has been made.
“We are supposed to have two investigative officers per constituency… but we don’t have a single investigative officer around,” Nathinge explained.
If the accused does not show up to court a warrant of arrest is typically issued for them.
In most cases opened for child maintenance, the complainant is a woman seeking financial support from the man and rarely the other way round.
However, this year in an unusual turn of events a man from Opuwo in Kunene Region dragged his wife to court for child maintenance. Petrus Mumbuu, a former chaplain in the Namibian Defence Force, claimed N$2 500 from his wife to support their two children.