Informal traders at the Okuryangava Stop n Shop market say they are disturbed by the actions of the City Police, who confiscated their products while they try to make an honest living.
The traders told New Era the police are now confiscating their products on a daily basis, and that they feel this is an attempt to make them starve to death.
Anna Mungungu (48) said she has been trading at Okuryangava since 1997; however, last year, she lost N$19 000 when City Police confiscated her items.
“Last year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, I lost a lot of money; they took my apples, tomatoes, potatoes and onions. It is painful; now, I have to buy a vehicle that I am using to sell my items. When I see them, I drive away so that I save my products. We do not want to steal. We want to work but there is no space,” she said.
Another vendor Hendrina Salomo (53), who is under the impression that refugees are well looked after by the United Nations (UN), said she is aggrieved by the high number of refugees that are competing with local vendors, saying they are the reason the City Police chase them from their spaces and confiscate their items.
“Last year, we were arrested in the morning while we were working. We were later freed, after [now Windhoek Mayor] Job Amupanda got involved. Now, the police are still after us, confiscating our things, such as airtime vouchers, food and money,” she said.
“As you can see, we are many here; the majority here are the Osire refugees; they are getting everything from UN, and they are here competing with us. The place is overcrowded because of them. When the police come, they confiscate our things and we go home with empty hands. It is not fair.”
Nangolo Ndayambekwa questioned how refugees got permission to compete with Namibians in the informal business sector.
However, City Police chief Abraham Kanime explained the vendors are being removed because they have contravened the street and trading regulation that prohibits them to carry out the business without permits from the City.
“These people are informal traders, trading at the doorstep of a formal market. By doing that, they are killing the formal business operating from the market.
In terms of the informal trade regulation, you are not supposed to trade within two meters from the formal market,” said Kanime.
Kanime added if the police did not implement the law there, those who are legitimately trading there would blame them.
“Those people are not registered to trade there. Those who are trading from the containers are already issued with a notice to vacate; if they did not do so, we will assist them to do so,” he maintained.
“We have to act because those people are issued with a notice from building control and we don’t have alternatives but just to remove them for orderliness.”
However, vendor Kornelia Maisho explained that most of those traders applied for permits, and they were never