Traditional leaders crucial for community courts: Kawana

03 Dec 2015 18:20pm
RUNDU, 03 DEC (NAMPA) – The knowledge of traditional leaders in implementing the Community Courts Act is vital, says Justice Minister Albert Kawana.
“I have deliberately taken this approach because it is you, our traditional leaders, who are on the ground on a daily basis applying the Community Courts Act. It is you who know the challenges that you are facing in applying the law,” he said here on Thursday.
Kawana was speaking during a one-day consultation workshop to assess the effectiveness of community courts in the Kavango East and West regions, and if there is a need to introduce amendments to address the challenges.
The leadership of four traditional authorities – Mbunza, Ukwangali, Gciriku and Sambyu – participated in the workshop.
At the end of the exercise Kawana will take the recommendations to Cabinet for principle approval and thereafter to Parliament to amend the existing law.
“We are also aware that community courts put more emphasis in the interest of the victim - the first priority is to compensate the victim. In this manner, victims regard community courts as the people’s choice.”
Community courts are responsible for administering customary and common law, in line with the Namibian Constitution. The courts were created by the Community Courts Act 10 of 2003. Before its enactment, traditional courts operated informally without recognition as part of the Namibian legal system.
There are 33 recognised traditional authorities in Namibia that have community courts.
Given the high cost of legal services in the country, citizens will be able to access these community courts at minimal costs.
The minister stressed that access to services should not be a privilege but rather a right of every Namibian.
“This is our goal as a nation. In this phase of the economic struggle, a Namibian citizen who is owed a chicken should be able to approach a community court for compensation, either with a chicken or monetary compensation to the value of a chicken without a legal practitioner.”
Kawana reaffirmed his ministry’s willingness to work with traditional authorities for the benefit of the nation and where possible, within the means of the state to continue to improve support given to community courts.
In his welcoming speech, Governor of Kavango East, Samuel Mbambo said courts, like any other system, should be led keeping in mind the culture and tradition of people.
Meanwhile, Kawana and his delegation are expected in Nkurenkuru in Kavango West on Saturday for another workshop with the same traditional authorities and to view the site earmarked for the construction of a court.