THE family of a three-month-old baby has allegedly been denied burying their child at the Evangelican Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) cemetery at Onanyama village in the Ohangwena region.
This is reportedly because the baby's mother is a member of a rival church.
According to the baby's uncle Gideon Mwatila, the baby's mother is a member of the Apostolic Faith Mission of Namibia, which is nearby the Omuhongo Elcin church.
The Apostolic Faith Mission has served at the village for the past 15 years, but does not have a cemetery.
The baby is said to be the first member of this church to die.
Mwatila says the baby died on 14 July and was buried two days thereafter.
He says because the Apostolic church does not have a cemetery, the family approached Elcin's Omuhongo church for help, but was not assisted.
"The deacon, Cathrine Nepando, said the baby could not be buried at Elcin's cemetery because she is not a member of the church," Mwatila says.
He says the family pleaded with the Onanyama village headman, Mika Shikongo, but this was to no avail.
"The headman said he would look into it," Mwatila says.
He says the family was eventually helped by an elderly person from the village, who offered them a piece of land where the baby could be interred.
"He said if we did not have a place to bury the baby, we could bury it in his fence, because the grave of a former member of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia was also there. Had it not been for him, the baby wouldn't have been buried."
Apostolic Faith Mission of Namibia pastor Petrus Timoteus on Wednesday said he had contacted the senior traditional councillor's assistant, who allegedly told him the Elcin church was justified in its refusal to bury the baby.
"He told me he only knows three churches in Namibia: Elcin, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglican Church," Timoteus said.
Elcin's executive secretary for eastern dioceses, reverand Aron Kaanana, this week said he was not aware of the matter.
Contacted for comment, Elcin general secretary Alpo Enkono said: "Will they not get demons if they come and bury their baby at Elcin cemetery? They say we are demon-possessed."
Shikongo said he would only comment on the matter once he has consulted the church, while Nepando earlier this week said the deceased's family never approached the church.
"They are not telling the truth. I did not see them, and I did not talk to them," she said.
Elcin eastern diocese bishop Shekutamba Nambala was not available for comment yesterday, however, his western diocese counterpart, Veikko Munyika, said the baby's remains should have been allowed to be buried at the cemetery.
He said the church does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their religious beliefs.