By By Dorcas Mhungu
September 2010
Intelligent, accomplished and in possession of a legal mind that does what needs to be done with admirable acumen, efficiency and flare, Saima Nambinga has become a role model in her profession.

Outside the courtroom, she reverts to a slim petite woman with a big heart who smiles readily and exudes a passion to see that justice is served to all.

Nambinga’s area of specialty at Lorentz Angula Incorporated is litigation in the Magistrate’s Courts and High Court, as well as the SADC and other tribunals established to determine rights and or settle disputes.

She has been director at Lorentz Angula Inc since April 2009 and is one of two black female directors in one of Namibia’s most established firms. The other director being Elize Angula.

The firm has 11 directors, four of them female.

Attributing her success to how she was raised, Nambinga reminisces how she and her siblings acquired many of their life lessons from helping out in the family business that her parents started in the early 1980s in Maroela, a suburb in Katutura, Windhoek.

“After school we would assist in our parents’ business and we became competent to work with money and customers. The business became our second home and it is there that we were taught to read and write and develop customer handling skills. We also learned discipline, hard work and the quality of being honest. And many years later, those customers whenever I bump into them, still greet me like family.”

Nambinga did not land into the legal fraternity by accident. She followed the tentacles of her interests after reading John Grisham novels and other authors and says that “hearing long and passionate arguments on any subject made me interested in the profession. Ultimately, I chose to study law after undergoing a process of eliminating those careers that I knew I did not want to take up for reasons like having a distinct dislike for numbers or blood or seeing injuries,” she emphasises.

But Nambinga strongly feels that secondary schools are doing very little in preparing high school graduates with information that will enable them to choose the ideal career.

According to the legal practitioner, most people blindly make career choices whose paths they know very little of. These choices, Nambinga maintains, are uninformed.

One of her prime reasons for choosing to become a lawyer was the social contribution that comes out of the profession.
Litigating on behalf of people and making available a level playing field for justice to prevail and become accessible to all, mirrors Nambinga’s selfless personality.

That side of her personality was one of the defining principles in landing in the legal profession that she has a strong passion for.

In describing the trials and tribulations of her career path, she singles out some cases that were memorable to her and others that were disappointing.

“There are various cases that are memorable and exciting that come to mind. The SADC Tribunal case brought by Mike Campbell (Pty) Ltd and William Campbell and Others against the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe must be one of the most memorable cases I have ever had the privilege of being involved in.”

The Zimbabwe farmers’ case was the second case to be heard before the newly opened SADC Tribunal Court at the time, with the first case having been lodged in 2007 involving a labour dispute.

“The Mike Campbell (Pty) Ltd and William Campbell and Others against the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe case was the first ever of its kind lodged to test the Tribunal’s ambit of jurisdiction in being able to hear matters involving the violation of fundamental human rights through the unconstitutional acquisition and grabbing of land.”

She says that the Zimbabwe farmers’ case is also a classic example of a disappointing result in seeing justice being done in so far as the enforcement of the ruling made by the SADC Tribunal was not followed by the Zimbabwe government which is refusing to enforce the Tribunal’s ruling.

“It goes without saying that this has been a particularly sensitive case,” she remarks.

She also cites the Mbanderu Traditional Authority case which involved a dispute between the Traditional Authority and the late Chief as well as various members forming part of the Mbanderu Traditional Authority as another memorable achievement for her.

“A ruling was handed down in 2008 by the Supreme Court involving the adoption by the Mbanderu Traditional Authority of its constitution.

The Supreme Court was tasked to consider and determine whether such adoption in our law constituted administrative and legislative acts for purposes of review, and in doing so created precedence on what constitutes administrative action. In this case we represented the Mbanderu Traditional Authority and the late Chief of the Mbanderu Traditional Authority in giving effect to their recently adopted constitution, thereby permitting for the codification of those provisions contained therein.

This case is now a reported judgment on the issue,” Nambinga says with an elated tone.

About the challenges faced by women in the profession, she indicates that for many women practicing law in Namibia, it is still a daunting task to successfully practise in the legal profession because the playing field is uneven.

Nambinga reveals that the lack of opportunity for female legal practitioners is forcing many female lawyers to abandon their legal professions because they are unable to progress and grow.

“I specifically thank those women who have been in the profession for many years and are actively fighting to create consciousness and awareness in the profession for women to grow.”

According to Namibinga, statistics show that more women are being admitted as legal practitioners yet the ratio of practicing women is around a mere 20% compared to 80% practicing male practitioners. She attributes the imbalance mainly to lack of access to clients, professional exposure and room for advancement.

Consequently many women legal practitioners will leave the legal posts they hold.

“There are only three female judges presiding over matters in the High Court. Of those three, only one is fully exposed to a wide spectrum of cases. The remaining judges are handling limited cases and this is why I say that we need progressive promotion of women in the profession.”

Saima Nambinga did her primary education at Holy Cross Convent from 1987 to 1993 and secondary school at St Paul’s College from 1994 to 1998 in Windhoek.

Thereafter she started her training with the reputable law firm, Lorentz and Bone, renown for its track record in training some of the most accomplished legal practitioners in the country today.

“When I applied to do training at Lorentz & Bone, I wanted to be associated with its history and possibly partake in the daily precedents being formed there, since Lorentz & Bone had a track record of bringing to our courts or defending some of the most fundamental principle cases ever argued in Namibia involving amongst others the fight against the abuse of fundamental and basic human rights, especially at a time when others were not prepared to do so.”

Born 31 years ago while her father, Jeremiah was a political detainee, she narrates how her mother and other women with locked up husbands would march daily to the detention cells in protest about the unlawful detention of their husbands.

Her mother, meme Hileni, maintains that her perseverance at demonstrating with baby Saima on her back every day played a role in Jeremiah’s realise. Saima had been named by a family friend as her father was behind bars at the time of his daughter’s birth.

Having been born, ironically amidst the legal battles her father was facing, Nambinga has climbed the legal ladder with style and from the current trends, the sky is her limit.

Recently married to Amupanda Kamanja, she views her supportive husband as her pillar of strength whose “role in my life makes all the difference and enables me to make a difference in society.”PF