Second hand clothing vendors in Kavango face uphill battle

14 Jan 2017 15:30pm
By Sawi Hausiku
RUNDU, 14 JAN (NAMPA) – Frustrated small business owners selling second hand clothes at the Rundu Open Market are appealing to Government to amend the Second Hand Goods Act 23 of 1998.
The act regulates the business of dealers in second hand goods and scrap metal, auctioneers and pawnbrokers and provides for incidental matters.
The nearly 20 entrepreneurs who are mostly women say they face difficulties with the police in the Kavango East and West regions, who stop them from selling clothes outside the open market.
Speaking through their chairperson at the Rundu Open Market, Magdalena Haileka on Thursday, they said their troubles began in 2013.
For years, the women sold the second hand clothes at the Rundu Open Market with certificates of operation they applied for at the police station in Rundu.
“However business started slowing down and we came up with an alternative to also conduct business outside of the open market,” Haileka said.
They then started selling clothes in villages in both the Kavango East and West regions, mainly concentrating on elderly people when they collect their pension at various pay points.
The police then informed them that they need a certificate of operation for each venue they operate at.
A certificate of operation costs N.dollars 250 and there are around 275 pay points for the collection of pension, meaning each vendor would need nearly N.dollars 70 000 to operate in both regions.
The women explained that they spend between 30 minutes and an hour at one pay point then move on to the next.
“We go to where the customers are. Charging us N.dollars 250 just does not make sense. Sometimes it even happens that no sale has been made or we managed to sell only a few items,” Haileka said.
Just last November, 13 women were arrested for not being in possession of certificates of operation to sell second hand clothes in villages.
Their case is still ongoing as they have to appear in the Rundu Magistrate’s Court as well as Kahenge Court in the Kavango West region in March this year.
They were granted bail of N.dollars 1 000 and their clothes were confiscated.
Haileka said the entrepreneurs have also suggested that they be required to have two certificates of operation - one for Kavango East and another for Kavango West - which would cover all villages.
Approached for comment, Namibian Police Force (NamPol) Chief Inspector Ben Ndinoshiho who was previously in charge of the Second Hand Goods department said the certificate of operation is valid for three years.
He explained that the act states that any person operating in second hand goods should have a certificate of operation for every fixed place they operate at.
“The same applies to business people operating in other kinds of businesses. Every time you move to a different area you have to apply for a certificate of operation in order to do business from there,” he said.
Ndinoshiho said he understands the women’s predicament, but the police officers are just following the laws passed by Parliament.
Haileka told this news agency they consulted the office of Rundu Urban Constituency councillor Victoria Kauma on the matter last year and were promised that the relevant authorities would be engaged.
Kauma on Friday confirmed receiving the complaints and said it was last year discussed at constituency level.
She also took it to regional level, involving all Kavango East councillors as well as the management team of the NamPol in the region.
She said this was done in order for all councillors to understand the act and for the relevant authorities to come up with a way to make it work better in favour of small business owners before tabling it in the National Council.
Meanwhile, the vendors say they have no choice but to keep operating, even if it means being arrested again.
“It is how we make a living,” Haileka said.