High Court

Ugandan court puts widow's rights ahead of cultural practices

In a judgment that strikes a blow for women’s equality in the face of strong cultural practices, the Ugandan high court has ordered that a widow may decide where her deceased husband may be buried. This despite the wishes of the man’s family, who wanted him laid in an ancestral burial ground and who wanted the woman to be barred from in any way ‘interfering’ with the burial. Before making its decision, the court asked for expert witnesses to provide evidence about the burial traditions of the Ndiga clan.

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At the centre of this court dispute is a family divided over where Christopher Kyobe, who died of Covid in Switzerland during October, should be buried.

His wife of 28 years – they married in Uganda in 1993 – brought his body back from Switzerland where they had lived, because she said he had told her that he wished to be buried at his matrimonial home in Mukono.

Transgender victim of police unlawful arrest and assault awarded damages

Police in Namibia have yet again come in for some tough criticisms by the courts of that country. This time because of the unwarranted harassment, unlawful arrest, assault and abuse meted out against a transgender woman who was picked up and forced into a police van, for no good reason.

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What makes this story unusual is that the victim of the police assault was a transgender woman. Otherwise, however, the tale of police brutality, carried out with an apparent firm belief in the aggressor’s impunity, is a story that is becoming increasingly common in the Namibian courts.

Judge concerned about 'overcriminalisation' of teenage sex

Many teenagers are sexually active but, in its efforts to protect children and vulnerable young people, the law is not always able to act appropriately in response. A significant new decision from the high court in Malawi raises the issue squarely and, in a section headed, ‘Overcriminalisation of factually consensual sexual intercourse’ suggests that South Africa, among others, might have found a suitable approach for the law to take.

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Malawi’s high court judge Vikochi Chima has been reconsidering a case in which Charles Gondwe, charged with ‘defiling’ a girl a couple of years his junior, was acquitted. (‘Defiling’ is the term used in Malawi for rape of a child.)

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