Voices of the children of a former fisherman

IMPACTS … Josua Hafeni and his children at Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay, at the end of 2023.
. . . ‘We sometimes only see our father after three months’

Life was good and the family stayed together when Josua Hafeni still had a fisherman’s job aboard the MFV Heinaste, operated by ArcticNam Fishing, out of Walvis Bay.

ArcticNam Fishing was a joint venture between Icelandic fishing company Samherji and local Namibian partners.

Josua Hafeni was a Heinaste fisherman from 2013 to 2018, and his children remember those times.

“I don’t know what [job] my father was doing, but everything was good,” says Joshua Kaloloka (21).

“There was no complication, and we were staying together in one big house. When my father came home, he could afford anything I wanted.

Anna Mukede, a niece of Hafeni, whom he had raised as one of his own children, also has fond memories of that time in their lives.
“My father took care of me when I was in school. I did not need anything. I was in the hostel at Tsumeb,” she says.

“When he came from the sea, he used to bring us eggs and fish. We used to enjoy it,” she remembers.

Even though he was very young during those years, Josua Hafeni Jr (13) also has memories of those times.


He remembers they ate a lot of fish in those years.

“We enjoyed fish. We even got tired of it. He also used to bring us yoghurt,” he recalls.

Life changed for everyone when Hafeni lost his job in late 2018.

“When he lost his job, he just went quiet,” says Mukede.

“I used to ask him what was going on. He told us things are not well and their employer was not treating them well. ‘They are retrenching us’, he said.”

Kaloloka says: “It hit us mentally.”

In 2019 the family had to move out of the house Hafeni had been renting at Kuisebmond, and since then the family has been split up.
He had been planning to buy the house, but his retrenchment destroyed that plan.

Three of his children now live with his brother at the Tutaleni informal location at the town, while Mukede now shares a one-room shack at Twaloloka informal settlement with his sister.


The fact that the family no longer lives together has impacted relations between Hafeni and his children.

“Now my two younger brothers and I are living with our uncle in another house,” Kaloloka says.

“Sometimes I just want us to have a father-and-son conversation as we used to when we were living in the house at Kuisebmond. But that is difficult because we only see him when he brings us bread sometimes,” the younger Kaloloka says.

The children say sometimes three months can pass without them seeing Hafeni, despite all of them living at the same town.

When Mukede returned to Walvis Bay in 2019 from Tsumeb, Hafeni had initially been able to pay for her enrolment in a chef’s course at a hospitality training institute, but she had to drop out because he could not afford to continue paying for the course.

Kaloloka had also wanted to study to become an engineer or something in a vocational field after leaving school in 2020, but has had to let go of that dream as his father cannot pay for his studies.


“When I went to Grade 12, my dream was to become an engineer,” he says.

“I knew whether I passed or failed Grade 12, my father would not be able to afford anything for us. He is the only person among our relatives who could do something for us.”

Hafeni Jr, who lives with his mother in another part of Kuisebmond, and who is in Grade 8 at Duinesig High School in the neighbourhood, says his father’s situation has impacted his dreams negatively.

“It was very hard for me because when my father was working at sea, he used to take us out to KFC. Life was just nice. He was even the first person to buy me soccer boots,” he says.

He dreams of becoming a professional football player, he says.

The football fanatic says if his father were to get his job back now, the first thing he would want is new clothes and soccer boots.
Hafeni Jr says he also wants to learn how to use computers, but cannot afford the course, which costs N$350 per year.

He says he sometimes cannot participate in group projects at school that require him to contribute material or go on an excursion.
“Before, my father took us to Dunes Mall and bought us nice things,” he says.

“Now he buys us cheap clothes, because he is struggling.”

The story of Josua Hafeni and his family is one that plays out across many lives at Walvis Bay in the wake of the job losses that have accompanied and been a direct consequence of the turmoil caused by the Fishrot corruption scandal.

This is a personal story of how the Fishrot scandal impacted fisherman Josua Hafeni and his family as published in the Institute for Public Policy Research report, titled ‘Human Rights Impacts of the Fishrot Scandal: We Are The Ones Who Suffered The Most’.

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