SWAKOPMUND - Tracing men who are in arrears for child maintenance and holding them accountable still remains a challenge for many heartbroken coastal mothers who feel the justice system is too lenient on these fathers who impregnate women and then vanish.
According to some women the justice system fails their children especially when it comes to the verification of the financial status and the actual earnings of these men who exploit legal loopholes.
This, say the complainants, results in their children getting pennies for their maintenance from these dodgy, absentee fathers.
Christine Edwards, a mother of two children, says her experience with the court system has been very frustrating. She divorced her husband last year and has been in and out of the maintenance court simply because a High Court order has yet to be enforced.
“In my case, I am only getting maintenance of N$4 000, which mainly only covers school – extramural activities and medical aid rest solely upon me, despite the judgement stating that it should be shared between me and my ex-husband,” she moaned.
She added she has not received any cent for maintenance for several months resulting in her selling off expensive shoes and a phone her former husband bought for the kids, to buy food, electricity and pay for fuel to take the kids to school.
“I had no other choice – the maintenance money was not coming, and all the financial burden, on top of that, I had to pay my housing and car payments.”
Another woman Irene Xamses faces a similar predicament.
“My ex-husband makes more than N$30 000 but my kids, his only children, only get N$1 500, simply because he did not submit financial statements to determine what he should pay,” she said.
Commenting on the issue, Ombudsman John Walters said the challenges experienced with maintenance would remain unless more manpower is appointed to deal with it.
He says the Namibian law makes provision for the appointment of maintenance officers at various courts that will specifically deal with the tracing of truant fathers and verify their financial status.
“Government should really look into appointing such officials as children are the only ones that are suffering if maintenance is not paid or fathers are not found to be held accountable for maintenance,” he said.
*Names of the women featuring in the story were changed as the women have pending maintenance cases and they fear possible reprisals.