The refrigerator rabbi

BACKYARD BUSINESS… Thomas Adreas, a fridge technician showing off his Rabbi work gear. Photo: Veripuami Kangumine

Phineas Shivute (35) takes a few steps back to photograph the gray refrigerator he has just finished repairing.

He snaps shots of the fridge at different angles and then smiles at his phone, satisfied with the result.

Shivute says he is going to share the pictures with his customers on Facebook and WhatsApp.

He repairs fridges on the veranda he has converted into a workshop in front of his house.

His business is called Rabbi CC.

The veranda is littered with fridges of various brands and colours – all in different stages of disrepair.

Shivute apologises for his appearance as he tries to wipe away the dirt coating his hands.

“This dirt can only come off after five years in the shower,” he jokes.


Shivite starts repairing fridges at four in the morning and then gets ready for his day job – teaching.

“I get up at 04h00, exercise at home and do some work on a few fridges, then go to my other job,” he says.

He says he has learnt to fix fridges as an act of love for his mother after seeing her waste money on tradesmen not being able to repair her fridge.

“We at Rabbi CC don’t even ask more than N$1 000 for our labour to fix a broken fridge,” he says.

Providing customers with honest work gives him peace of mind, he says.


Shivute says he learnt the trade after requesting a pastor’s prayers to help him find his purpose in life – to help other people through his talent for repairing appliances.

He was then taught how to repair fridges by a friend who worked for an appliance repair company.

The name ‘Rabbi’ is inspired by Jesus, he says, who was a carpenter and was called Rabbi by his disciples.

Shivute says he and his two apprentices all refer to each other as ‘Rabbi’.

He says he repairs gas leaks, thermostats, compressors and pencil dryers – all components affecting the moisture, temperature and cooling system of a fridge.

“When I fix a fridge I begin by unplugging it. I check the wiring to avoid starting a fire,” he says.

He says fridges sometimes make a noise even though the compressor is not working.

He then has to hold the fridge to see if its engine is pumping, he says.

“If it not making a sound, I look at the thermostat, which determines the temperature of fridge, or a leakage causing the refrigerator gas to escape,” he says.

Shivute says customers often do not understand that the electricity supplying their fridge is sometimes not sufficient.

Shivute says his philosophy of building a community through honesty and integrity is what brings him more customers.

He returns his gratitude by offering whoever refers customers to him a small commission.

“The name of our company means we don’t want to steal from the people. Rabbi is there for everybody. We give jobs to the people,” he says.

One of Shivute’s apprentices, Thomas Andreas (26), says he has found a home and a purpose at Rabbi CC.

“Mr Rabbi taught me everything I know after he found me driving a taxi. I feel like he is family,” he says.

Along with fridges, Shivute repairs other electrical appliances, like microwaves, washing machines and cars.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News