Obrein Simasiku & Victoria Kaapanda
OMUTHIYA/ONGWEDIVA – The strict regulations imposed by authorities to help curb the spread of Covid-19 has not only crippled major businesses but tombo brewers in the north of the country are also feeling the heat. Many enjoy the traditional home-brewed beer, despite its considerably high volume of alcohol.
However, some brewers appear to be defying the regulations imposed by the authorities, which calls for an alcohol ban. Some of the brewers have relocated their businesses in the middle of their mahangu fields in a bid to avoid arrest or being slapped with a fine by law enforcement agencies.
Oshikoto police inspector for community affairs Ellen Nehale said, in recent weeks, they have been making numerous busts on brewers trading in hideouts such as mahangu fields.
“When you ask these people about Covid-19, they will tell you everything. But they still continue trading illegally despite understanding the risk involved. Thus, we educate them first then we fine them,” stated Nehale, adding that tombo traders were busted in the areas of Onkumbula, Evale and Onameya.
She said some tombo drinkers have complained of not being able to live without the traditional beer, comparing it to the impotent oshikundu.
“We, therefore, request anyone who might have knowledge of people trading illegally to contact the nearest police. No matter how far and where you hide, we will still find and bring you to order,” vowed the outspoken inspector.
Tombo, a mixture of water, brown sugar and sorghum, is normally prepared at night for consumption in the next morning. In Omusati region, police spokesperson Linekela Shikongo said they have arrested many bar owners for defying the Covid-19 regulations. However, most tombo brewers were fined.
“They are doing things on purpose; if you warn them without arrest, they will continue selling, which is not right. What we don’t want is crowded places and sharing of drinks,” said Shikongo.
Maria Kamati, who has been brewing tombo for over 20 years, says her business is severely crippled. “I don’t have a problem if the government could provide us with necessities. I will definitely stop selling. But for now, I need money to buy bread and I will only get money once I sell,” she told New Era.
Many of Kamati’s customers are people from her neighbourhood and those from nearby villages. She said if they could let them sell, they would avoid overcrowding and stick to social distancing. Her customers can buy their drinks and drink at home, she further suggested.