OPUWO – Young traders at Opuwo have accused the government of robbing them of a chance to create employment and subsequently uplift their livelihoods after their contraband goods were confiscated by customs officials last Friday.
The youth, who admitted they are not schooled on contraband, challenged the government to prove their items are not original, as is alleged by those who confiscated their products.
The group sell items from different stalls within the town such as branded T-shirts, trousers and sandals, amongst others.
The traders said they were never engaged or informed that they are not allowed to sell branded items, saying that they were caught off guard.
The two-day operation at the town started on Thursday.
The group said they were informed that their items would be loaded in a truck and burnt at Oshakati.
Nelly Thomas, who has been in the business since 2018, said it was the first time she encountered something like that.
“I’ve lost stock worth more than N$5 000. They are asking us to get receipts of the goods we are selling. Where do I get them from? I buy my stock from Chinese shops in Oshakati. If they are illegal goods what are they doing in the Chinese shops?” queried Thomas.
Thomas appealed to government to lead in informing them on how they should conduct their businesses.
Justina Hailonga, who also lost her goods during the raid, asked government to come to their aid.
“My whole stock is gone. I have nothing left to sell to generate an income. I have a small baby and I will not have anything to provide for both of us,” said Hailonga.
Joseph Kotokeni (33) said following the news of the raided stall, his employer was forced to close their business.
He said the shop where he is employed is where many of the affected businessmen and businesswomen buy their stock. “The shop is closed. No business means no salary for us. What will our employer pay us if the shop is closed?” said Kotokeni.
Kotokeni said the shop owner closed the shop fearing that customs would clear the whole stock.
The finance ministry had not responded to questions sent to them on Monday at the time of going to print yesterday.