San women reluctant to open GBH cases

13 Jul 2018 17:30pm
GOBABIS, 13 JUL (NAMPA) – San women are reluctant to open criminal cases against their abusive partners or tend to withdraw such cases in their infancy once opened, the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) in Omaheke has revealed.
Sergeant Lina Mbinga of NamPol’s Gender-Based Violence Investigation Unit told a gathering of young San women here on Thursday that the police continue to receive a large number of case withdrawal requests from the San community.
Mbinga made the revelation during a regional consultative meeting on the situation of San girls and women in Namibia.
The consultation placed emphasis on leading dialogue on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
She said although the practice is common across all ethnic groups, young San women withdraw such cases more than others.
Mbinga noted that cases of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (Assault-GBH), especially where a woman has been assaulted by her partner, tops the list of cases reported to the police by the San community.
She noted that the police have observed that San women are most times also reluctant to open such cases against their partners, as they fear losing them.
“We have had cases where a woman who has been clearly assaulted refuse to open a case against the perpetrator, especially if such person is her partner. This has really made the efforts of the police to tackle GBH difficult,” she said.
Mbinga noted that cases of rape are often not reported to the police in time, as San women appear to regard such practices as normal.
“We have experienced high cases of incest and rape reported but such cases come in late to the police, which makes us believe that there are numerous other cases out there that go unreported,” said Mbinga.
The police officer also raised concern that cases of child maintenance brought against non-San men who have children with San women, are often lost.
She said when child maintenance hearings are brought up, such men reportedly remove the children from under the care of their mothers, and some San women hardly see their children again.
Omaheke Region has a high concentration of San people, with many of them residing in the Aminuis, Kalahari and Okorukambe constituencies.
Small towns and villages such as Witvlei, Otjinene, Du Plessis Plaas, Driemiopsis, Farm Skoonheid and Omitara have a high number of San inhabitants.