‘Order with me’ operators in customs limbo

Steven Ndorokaze

…. Namra promises action as business owners say they wait for months for clearance

Small business owners who import goods from China to resell locally face prolonged delays and uncertainty as their shipments remain stuck in customs, some for over seven months.

Pefinde Ester (27) describes the situation as “a nightmare, robbery and very disappointing”.

She says her ‘order with me’ business sustains her livelihood, covering her rent, school expenses and daily needs.

“It has been seven months and yet I have not received my goods.”

Ester recounts ordering two iPhone 13 phones, each valued at N$9 000, totaling N$18 000, which customers had paid for. She now has to explain the situation to her customers, who are demanding refunds.

“I just can’t afford to refund them.”

Ester says she experienced the loss of a box of iPhone screens worth N$34 000 and despite her efforts to seek answers, she remains in the dark about the whereabouts of her goods.

“I went to the airport to find out and all I was told was that the goods arrived and perhaps got lost during the Menzies and Paragon issues,” Ester says.

Elaine van Wyk (61) also details her ongoing ordeal, expressing frustration at the lack of accountability and transparency surrounding the disappearance of her parcel.

According to Van Wyk, she has been waiting six months for cellphones worth N$45 000.

She says during the Menzies and Paragon warehouse dispute, communication breakdowns with the clearing agent further complicated matters, leaving her package missing without a satisfactory explanation.

Van Wyk, just like many others, orders goods from China with Chinese shipment company, XY Cargo.

“We enquired several times at XY Cargo about our parcel and were told that it was not cleared and we must follow up with the clearing agent.”

A certain Hofnie Kanara acts as the clearing agent for some of XY Cargo’s clients in Namibia. Efforts to get comment from Kanara were futile as he stopped taking calls.

“Kanara assured us that he never received our waybill or FD numbers for clearing and that it must still be at the Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra) warehouse. We contacted him several times and later he stopped answering our calls and WhatsApp messages,” says Van Wyk.

She says for the last four months, she has tried to sort out the issue with the relevant stakeholders without any success.
“Our package arrived in the country, but has since disappeared without a trace. Nobody takes responsibility for the missing goods or can explain it satisfactorily.”

Sophia Nanyanga (26), the owner of ‘Ellen’s Collection’, says she orders goods from China, with customers depositing 50% upfront, with the rest due upon delivery.

She says she purchased two iPhone 8 Plus phones valued at N$6 500, with a customer depositing N$7 500.

Despite shipping with XY Cargo, confirmation of arrival at Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) on 11 August 2023 and Kanara as the clearing agent, the goods remained held up, she says.

“Namra officials confirmed that the airway bill number of that flight did arrive but parcels are not there,” Nanyanga says.

Unable to retrieve the goods, Nanyanga says she was forced to refund a customer N$7 500 to avoid accusations of scamming.

Similarly, Liina Shikomba (25), a member of the ‘Order with Me’ WhatsApp group that ships with XY Cargo, says she shipped a parcel containing an iPhone 12 Pro Max valued at N$12 000 from China to Namibia on 10 August 2023.

She details the process of using XY Cargo, from appointing them as the shipper to tracking the goods through WeChat.

Despite following protocol and appointing Kanara as the clearing agent, her parcels have been missing since last year.

“We want to know where our parcels are? How did they go missing at HKIA in the custody of Namra?”

Shikomba says she is a student and cannot afford to refund the N$12 000 to her customer.


Namra has acknowledged being informed about the situation, specifically regarding the disappearance of three waybills during the legal conflict involving Menzies and the Namibia Airports Company.

“We have proactively initiated discussions with some of the affected clients, outlining our planned course of action and addressing their concerns,” Namra spokesperson Steven Ndorokaze says.

Ndorokaze adds that Namra has authority in overseeing clearing agents as per Section 73 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1998.
This grants Namra the power to refuse, cancel or suspend a clearing agent licence in cases of non-compliance.

He says a regulatory framework is being strengthened through the finalisation of rules for licencing clearing agents and direct trader inputs.

“It is important for all clearing agents to recognise their pivotal role in the trade ecosystem and conduct their business activities with the utmost professionalism and integrity,” Ndorokaze says.

The standard clearance and release of goods’ time frame is set at seven days, provided all necessary criteria are met, says Ndorokaze.
“However, various factors can contribute to an extended clearance process. These encompass instances such as the failure of clearing agents to frame and submit entries to Namra, importers neglecting to submit invoices to clearing agents and importers not fulfilling the payment requirements for assessed entries,” Ndorokaze says.

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