KEETMANSHOOP - A 31-year-old Keetmanshoop man felt the wrath of the law yesterday when he was slapped with a N$1 000 fine for failure to pay child maintenance.
Appearing before magistrate Elzabe Konjore in the Keetmanshoop Magistrate’s Court, Edward van der Westhuizen informed the court about his failure to pay an arrears amount of N$1 250 for child maintenance after being granted ample time to do so during his previous court appearance. Being granted the opportunity to address the court on mitigating factors prior to sentencing, he informed the magistrate that he is the father of three children, of which the two minors are staying with him. “I am unemployed, making a living by doing casual work like construction where I earn N$1 800.00 per month,’’ the accused explained. Van der Westhuizen further mitigated that he has no valuable property that can be attached and only attended school up to grade 8 due to poverty.
“To me, a suitable sentence will be a fine of N$1 000 because my income depends on how often I secure casual work,’’ he concluded in mitigation. While presenting aggravating circumstances to the court, public prosecutor, Frederick Van Der Colf argued that the accused was convicted of a serious offence in that there was harm caused to an innocent child. “The accused has furthermore failed to pay child maintenance for quite some time and has thus reconciled himself with his wrongdoing,’’ he added. Van Der Colf added failure to pay child maintenance is a prevalent offence in Keetmanshoop, involving public interest as it affects children who are vulnerable members of society. “It is also aggravating that the court gives him every opportunity to pay the arrears and elevate the situation of the child, but he still failed to do so,’’ said the prosecutor. He then asked for a fine of N$2 000 or eight months imprisonment as an alternative and furthermore for the accused to settle the arrears of N$1 250 accordingly. In sentencing, magistrate Konjore, after considering the crime committed, the accused’s personal circumstances as well as the interest of the community, made it a court order for him to pay a fine of N$2 000 with an alternative of nine months’ imprisonment if he fails to pay the fine.
She further suspended N$1 000 of the fine or three months of imprisonment for a period of three years on condition that the accused does not make himself guilty of the same offence within the three years. Van der Westhuizen also informed the accused that the sentence delivered would be subjected to automatic review in the High Court of Namibia whereby he has the opportunity to present arguments or submissions to be placed on review within three days. – firstname.lastname@example.org