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Come get married, cohabitating couples are told

Written by on June 1, 2024

The Uukwambi Traditional Authority is urging the heads of traditional authorities to refer unmarried couples, especially those cohabiting, to the traditional court for marriage ceremonies to secure inheritance rights.

This call came from Maria Angungu, a representative of the Uukwambi Traditional Authority legal committee, when she spoke at a community meeting at Uukwangula in the Oshana region on Wednesday.

She said traditional authority heads will provide letters confirming couples’ residence and relationship.

“We will only allow the marriage to take place if the couples’ parental relatives are aware of the relationship and that the couples have been living in the same house for a very long time. We don’t want strangers,” she said.

The traditional authority offers an alternative to civil marriages for couples seeking official recognition of their unions.

A villager at the meeting asked Angungu about polygamy in the traditional courts. Uukwambi chief Ndilimani Iipumbu responded to this by saying Namibian law only permits monogamous marriages.

He further explained the practical benefits of traditional marriages. “If a cohabiting couple experiences a death, the surviving partner, especially if unemployed, can be left destitute by the deceased’s family,” he said.

Oukwanyama Traditional Authority spokesperson Andrew Naikaku told The Namibian yesterday that in connection with inheritance, the traditional court provides a confirmation letter to a surviving partner to take to the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF), for example, for inheritance purposes.

He added that the confirmation can only be issued after the traditional authority has done its due diligence. He also said the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority’s traditional court does not conduct marriages.

Ombadja Traditional Authority chairperson Kaleb Amwele yesterday said the Ombadja Traditional Authority does not conduct customary marriages, but it is in the pipeline.

“The eight traditional authorities in the north are working on something that will see them conducting customary marriages,” he said.

Manasse Mutivali, who got married in a traditional court at Omaruru in 2013, told The Namibian that in a traditional marriage, a man is expected to pay money and a cow.

Mutivali said his payment included a cow and N$10 000.

He further said traditional marriages have specific procedures for handling divorces.

“I like the way they handle divorces, whereby if the wife goes back to her parents without a valid reason, they break up the marriage and they pay you six head of cattle or the equivalent in money,” Mutivali said.

Former University of Namibia (Unam) law lecturer Fritz Nghiishililwa said yesterday that customary marriages are recognised in Namibia because customary laws work parallel with the common law, meaning marriages, inheritance and the appointment of kings and queens are recognised.

“Provided that such practice does not conflict with the common law or the Constitution. The only customary practice which is not allowed by the government is that part which offends the Constitution, which violates the practice of common law or an act of parliament, but any other practice that is not offending the the practice of the law is applicable,” Nghiishililwa said.

The post Come get married, cohabitating couples are told appeared first on The Namibian.

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