GBV: In the eyes of a grieving sister

Lena Kawarie

Lena Kawarie (27), who recently lost her sister Chriszelda Kawarie (21) to gender-based violence (GBV), advises those in dysfunctional relationships to leave.

“If the relationship does not work, just get separated,” said Lena on Thursday.

Chriszelda was allegedly killed by her boyfriend Jackson Arikumbi (29) on 23 March at a plot at the Hardap scheme near Mariental.

The incident was confirmed by Namibian Police spokesperson chief inspector Elifas Kuwinga on Thursday.

Kuwinga said Chriszelda’s body was found violated. “It’s alleged that the suspect killed his girlfriend. He strangled and slit her throat with a blade. After that, he mutilated the body,” said Kuwinga.

His motive remains unknown.

Arikumbi handed himself over to the police on 25 March, which led to the discovery of her half-decomposed body in his room.

The Namibian reported last year that the United Nations Population Fund revealed that at least 32% of Namibian women have experienced physical violence from their intimate partner at some point in their life. Lena said her efforts to convince Chriszelda to break up with Arikumbi in the past were all in vain. “I always advised her that if you don’t understand each other then just break up. They broke up for a day or a week, then they took each other back again,” she said.

Chriszelda and Arikumbi were in a relationship for the past four years despite occasional physical fights, said Lena.

On the night of the incident, Chriszelda told Lena during telephone call that she had had an argument with Arikumbi.

“They were arguing and he was behind her. She said she would tell me about it when she gets home on Sunday. I told her to go to bed and sleep,” she said.

The next day, Lena attempted to contact Chriszelda, but she was unreachable. “When I was in the office on Monday (25 March). I got the news that my sister was murdered. I did not want to believe it. I could not accept something like that…”

Lena still finds it difficult to come to terms with her sister’s death. She said Chrizelda was not just her sister but also her best friend and confidant.

“Her death affected me very much, sometimes I feel like I am not a person. I feel like I’ve lost everything.”

Chriszelda left behind a son (4), who is now being raised by her sister Vrendeline Kawarie (37).

“…Whenever I see him, I think of her,” said Vrendeline on Thursday..

Chriszelda and Vrendeline would often spend time together, especially during a party or an event.

“The news came as a shock to me, because that Saturday, we were still together at home. It isn’t easy to lose someone so suddenly,” said Vrendeline. The news also came as a shock to their brother Bernadus Kawarie (36). Bernadus said he will always remember Chriszelda for her helpful nature.

“She was a quiet person, she did not talk too much. When you tell her to do something, she will always do it.”

He said a great sister has been taken from him. Mariental residents held a demonstration on 5 April demanding that Arikumbi’s bail be opposed and that he receives the maximum sentence.

“We urge the Ministry of Justice to pursue the maximum penalty under the law for the perpetrator of this crime. Such barbarity cannot be met with leniency,” noted the petition.

They also demanded legal and psychological assistance for the family.

“…They have been thrust into a nightmare of unimaginable proportions and deserve access to counselling, legal assistance and any other support necessary to help them navigate through this difficult time,” noted the petition further.

The residents appealed for justice for Chriszelda and every other GBV victim.

Arikumbi appeared before magistrate Anna Matroos on 27 March.

His case was postponed to 13 June for further investigation and to obtain legal aid.

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