Oukwanyama queen wins battle against dismissed headmen

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OMHEDI, 14 May 2015 - The Queen of OuKwanyama, Martha Mwadinomho waChristian yaNelumbu (centre) surrounded by her OuKwanyama Traditional Authority (OTA) lieutenants during a courtesy call by the Finnish Ambassador to Namibia, Anne Saloranta and and Finnish journalists on yaNelumbu at the OuKwanyama palace at Omhedi village in the Ohangwena Region on Thursday. (Photo by: Mathias Nanghanda) NAMPA

Simon Endjala
Windhoek

A legal battle between Oukwanyama Queen Mwadinomho Martha ya Kristian Nelumbu and three dismissed headmen over their alleged unfair dismissal, is over after the Supreme Court ruled in the queen’s favour on Thursday last week.
Documents by the Supreme Court availed to Nampa show that Namibia’s highest court ruled in favour of the Oukwanyama queen in respect of her urgent appeal application,
in which she requested the court to overrule an earlier decision by the High Court that ordered her to reinstate the three headmen George Hikumwah, Sipora Weyulu Dan and Vatilifa Hangula.

The three were relieved of their traditional duties in June 2011 as per a traditional committee’s findings, which were the result of deliberations in which the three respondents participated without objection.

“The outcome of those proceedings established that the respondents were indeed, amongst others, guilty of sowing division in the community and undermining the queen’s authority,” said Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Petrus Damaseb as he read the ruling.

In the ruling, the three Supreme Court Judges of Appeal comprising Damaseb, Dave Smuts and Elton Hoff said for all of the above reasons “we are satisfied that the appellants are correct to say that the High Court misdirected itself in relying on review grounds and not on the founding affidavits in the High Court.”

In her appeal application the queen maintained that it was entirely within her rights as traditional leader to dismiss the three.

The appellants are Queen Nelumbu, along with the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority, Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, as well as traditional councillors Nghidinihamba Urias Ndilula, Elias Waandja, Samuel Mateus, Josef Kamati and Linda Nauyoma.

The queen stated that she had acted in terms of her non-reviewable royal prerogative, which is not an administrative decision.

She dismissed the three headmen following the discovery of alleged irregularities in the handling of the communal trust fund of the Oukwanyama traditional community.
It was found that the trust fund was not handled in accordance with the Traditional Authorities Act.

The discovery was made in 2010.

It is reported that certain funds sourced from the community were not paid into the designated communal trust fund account, but into a separate bank account, and that certain loans of the monies held in the Oukwanyama Community Trust Fund were granted to beneficiaries without any resolution of the board of trustees and without following proper procedures.

Senior South African defence lawyer Ishmael Semenya, assisted by Silas Kishi-Shakumu, represented the appellants on the instructions of the Office of the Government Attorney.

Denis Khama appeared for the respondents on the instructions of local law firm Kwala. – Nampa

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