Allow me to talk about a disgusting and yet very common phenomenon in Namibia, PROPERTY GRABBING! This has become such a common practice that it’s hardly ever reported on in the media anymore. We, as a Namibian people have become so desensitised to it that it’s become the norm. Today, I hope to change that. I plan to remind you of the terrible effects this phenomenon has on the bereaved immediate family.
But, I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself, firstly, allow me to make myself clear when I refer to property grabbing. Property grabbing is taking of property of a deceased person from the surviving wife and/or children to whom it rightly belongs leaving them with very little or in most cases, nothing. Of course this practise is illegal, of course it is morally frowned upon, and yet, it happens every day in Namibia and for that matter, in the majority of African countries.
This practise is based on the assumption that everything in the household belongs to the man. It doesn’t consider who the actual breadwinner in that particular household is and it definitely does not consider; the will left behind by the man (in the cases in which the man did prepare a will), the legal and human rights of the widow and children, the financial implications of this towards the widow, which of the items they are taking were bought by the wife etc.
They (usually in the form of a close male relative) descend on the household during the mourning period like vultures on a fresh carcass. They take advantage of the woman’s grief and inability to make decisions immediately after the husband has passed away, to take everything they can. Often, the widow and her children are left homeless or in a house where even the curtains have been taken down. By the time they realise what’s going on, everything is gone.
Only the Namibian people themselves can change this. Only we can look out for and after our sisters and children when they are most vulnerable. It is indeed very difficult to get involved in other people’s “family matters” and I am well aware that it is nearly impossible to ask uncle so-and-so why he’s carrying the dining room table to his bakkie. I wouldn’t advise anyone does such lest you get a severe tongue lashing if not worse.
I would however, like to call upon the Namibian people as friends of the wife, as siblings of the wife, as women who have gone through the same experience, as children who have lost their fathers and in turn, the very bed they slept on; look out for and after our sisters and children. We have stood by and done nothing for too long. Let’s put an end to this degrading, disgusting and unconstitutional practice. Let’s stop feeding the vultures.
Ndapewoshali Ndahafa Ashipala