Zeila shipwreck feeds the unemployed

20 Oct 2014 13:02pm
HENTIES BAY, 20 OCT (NAMPA) – The wreck of the Zeila fishing trawler near Henties Bay not only attracts tourists, but has also become a source of income for the unemployed.
Thirteen young men go to the area from Henties Bay every morning to sell gemstones to tourists.
The Zeila is situated about 14 kilometres south of Henties Bay along the coastline between Henties and Swakopmund.
The fishing trawler got stranded here in 2008, near a popular fishing spot called ‘Die Walle’.
It was sold as scrap metal to an Indian company by Hangana Fishing of Walvis Bay, but got stranded after it came loose from its towing line while on its way to Bombay, India shortly after it left Walvis Bay.
Speaking to Nampa last week, the men said without a job life is tough, hence their decision to start selling gemstones here so they can support their families.
They sell gemstones such as Amazonite, Tiger Eye, Sodalite, Calcite, Chrysocolla and Amethyst.
“There are no other jobs. It is not a good job but it’s better than nothing. In a good day one can make N.dollars 400 to N.dollars 600, although a week or two can pass without us selling a single stone,” said Johannes Gawaseb.
They do not have set prices for their gemstones, and miners set their own prices ranging from N.dollars 50 to N.dollars 100 per stone.
They pay N.dollars 10 to come to work and N.dollars 10 to return to Henties Bay
The small miners get the gemstones from the Brandberg Mountain located some 250 kilometres east of Henties Bay in the Uis area.
Most of these men were born and raised in Uis, and they moved to Henties Bay in search of a better future.
Considering that the wreck is in the Dorob National Park and illegal trading is prohibited, Gawaseb said they approached the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for permission to sell their stones and were granted permission to do so.
“We also asked them to erect stands for us where we can display and sell our gemstones, but for now we hold the boxes in our hands as we approach tourists to encourage them to support us,” said Gawaseb, who has been trading here since 2008.
He noted that some tourists are friendly and supportive, while others sometimes ignore them.
“Henties Bay is a small town, there are not enough jobs especially for us who have no qualifications. I failed Grade 10, and after that I just decided to mine gemstones,” said Robert !Gaxab.
!Gaxab also said they clean the area where tourists come to observe the Zeila voluntarily.
He noted that they treat their clients with respect and do not steal from them as it will not reflect well on Namibia’s image.
“We have smart cards where we save our money so that we are able to buy food and clothes for our children and also pay rent,” he told this reporter.
Asked whether they are ready to vote in the Presidential and National Assembly elections on 28 November this year, Otniel Thourob said he will vote to see some changes in employment creation.
“Government must just create more jobs, we need to see some change,” Thourob said.