Traders want Mbumba’s mahangu import decision on paper

FOR SALE…Vendors importing mahangu from Angola say importing mahangu from Angola is a challenge. Photo: Eino Vatileni

Hendrina Wamui says she has been playing cat and mouse with the police at different border posts while ‘illegally’ importing mahangu from Angola.

She has been doing this for the past four years to feed her family, Wamui says.

Business has been tough since Angolan mahangu has been sold at the same price as her business.

“Now we are not getting customers easily, because people are just flocking to the Angolans. The importation of mahangu is very tricky, because we are doing it through loopholes.

“We are passing through illegal entry points, because those officials at the border are blocking us, but they are letting Angolans pass freely,” Wamui says.

“In the past I have been importing my mahangu from within the country from cattle posts, but now, due to poor rainfall, I have resorted to importing from Angola,” she says.

Wamui says she agrees with president Nangolo Mbumba that mahangu importers should be left to cross the borders freely.

Mbumba over the weekend asked the police to allow Namibians to buy staple foods from neighbouring Angola to avert the local shortage brought about by drought.

He said this at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ondonga Heritage Shrine in the Oshikoto region on Friday.

“Whether they like it or not, mahangu will cross those borders, because people are hungry. Police officers from both countries are receiving bribes when they try to confiscate our mahangu,” she says.

“They must relax their requirements and allow things to pass through the legal entry points,” she says.

Wamui says she is looking forward to importing her mahangu for resale freely without being harassed.

The government says the current drought is the worst in 100 years.


Vendor Ruben Tropo yesterday said the president’s words need to be formalised.

“He just said it, but it’s not on paper yet. We do not know whether it would be implemented or not,” he said.

“I came from Oshikango today, but police officers today at the Onhuno police checkpoint told me they do not care about what was said, they want a permit paper.

“We want the president to document it. Give it to these Namibia Revenue Agency (Namra) officials and paste it at the Onhuno roadblock,” Tropo said.

He said although he sometimes buys his mahangu from the Oshikango open market, he is still asked for a permit.

“We want the Helao Nafidi Town Council to issue us permits. I feel bad when I’m asked for a permit, because the town council has failed us, and we don’t want to use illegal entry points any more,” he said.

“If the mahangu is already in the country, we no longer need permits from Namra at the borders, but from local authorities.

“It must be their duty to question those who import mahangu to the open market, because we buy from within the country,” Tropo said.

He said the mahangu business is saving lives and suggested that the government set up a depot where locals can buy mahangu.


An Angolan vendor who identifies herself as Secilia, only says she commutes to and from Ondjiva in Angola twice a week.

She says she is often arrested by the police when found in possession of mahangu.

“The police told me I must stop crossing through illegal entry points, but pass through customs. We were also told we must look for permits to import mahangu,” Secilia says.

She says importers are allowed to operate on Mondays and Fridays only.

“We are not allowed to sell every day. We come and go back to Angola the same day. We want to operate freely . . . It’s still a challenge, because it’s not on paper,” she says.

Secilia says a 20kg bag of mahangu is worth N$140.

Angolan national Linus Hamunyela, who operates at the Oshikango open market, says it’s not easy to import mahangu into the country.

He says when the police see vendors carrying mahangu, they are arrested.

“There was good rainfall in Angola. We import this mahangu from far away, and the person who goes and gets it takes even two weeks to return.

“It’s another problem to bring it into the country. The police will arrest the person and the vehicle, and we have to pay bail for that person and the impounded vehicle,” he says.

Hamunyela says there is peace between Angolans and Namibians.


Omusati governor Erginus Endjala welcomed the president’s pronouncements, saying it would go a long way in averting hunger.

“This would complement the drought-relief programmes the government has in place. It makes it easy for those who have families in Angola to get food from their families,” he said yesterday.

Ohangwena governor Sebastian Ndeitunga said the president’s statement is long overdue and his office welcomes it wholeheartedly.

“This is a relief to many. The harvests in the region are poor, and the call would be the best one to those who would consider buying mahangu from Angola to feed their families,” he said.

Ndeitunga said the drought in the north is so bad that some households have not been able to harvest at all, and those who have, did not yield enough.

“The situation at the borders is poor, hence the two countries need to indulge in strategies on how to handle the situation,” he said.


Oshana regional police commander commissioner Naftal Sakaria yesterday said the police in the region do not confiscate food items.

“We have been sitting with the situation at hand where we see Angolans selling mahangu at Omatala. We choose to rather just confiscate smuggled fuel and alcohol,” he said.

Namra spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu yesterday said the agency could not comment on the matter.

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