Shebeen taps open

Bar and club owners have welcomed the relaxation of Covid restrictions impacting their business.

20 October 2021 | Local News

Thomas Nanyebo; Barman “At least now we can operate.”

Swakopmund ∙ Leena Ndakevondjo

Shebeen operators in Mondesa are in a jovial mood, after they received some good news; They’ve been allowed to extend their operating hours and the sale of alcohol.

According to many operators, Covid had cost them dearly and destroyed their livelihoods. They also claim that they have been treated unfairly compared to restaurants owners, who were allowed to sell alcohol on site. After the latest introduced regulations allowed for a return to some sort of normal things have become much better and easier for all establishments.

Livia Mutenga, the manager of the municipal health department in Swakopmund, confirmed that Mondesa has more than 60 legal and registered shebeens.

Albertina Nanyebo, one of the shebeen owners in the area, says that Covid has affected her business to such an extent that she considered closing her doors. “People barely bought alcohol due to the strict Covid rules. They also had no money since many lost their employment. At one stage we no longer had customers like before,” she said. According to Nanyebo, the amount of stock she used to purchase decreased rapidly. “I used to buy and sell 30 crates of beer within a week. I reduced this to 20 crates, due to a lack of customers. Luckily the price for beer still remains the same.”
Nanyebo said that she had to let her employees go, due to a lack of funds and now managed the business on her own. “On some days I only made N$200 in a day. This was hardly enough to cover the bills. I decided to send my workers home. It is heart-breaking because they are now unemployed.’’

Black market

Nanyebo alleges that during the strict application of Covid rules, illegal shebeen owners made more money than those who are legally registered. “They sold non-stop from their homes and even did so after working hours, unlike us.” Before the regulations were amended, shebeens were allowed to operate from 09:00 to 18:00 from Monday to Friday. “Most workers knock off at 18:00. It was then pointless for customers to stop by for a drink,” she reasoned. The newly announced extended operation hours brought some joy for customers and shebeen owners alike. These allow onsite alcohol consumption at clubs and restaurants from Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 24:00.

Thomas Leonard (28), a barman at Oneleyetu Amusement Centre in Swakopmund, said he is pleased as this allows customers to return to their favourite drinking holes. “At least now we can operate again,” he said, adding that his establishment placed sanitizers at the point of entry and signs encouraging and reminding everyone to wear a mask if they want to access the premises.
“Customers don’t have a problem obeying the Covid-19 rules” he said. The owner of the establishment Albertina Nanyebo (39), said that the setback brought along by Covid-19 affected her family badly and left her without any money. “I had to apply for a bank loan. I must also take care of my workers and barely have enough money to feed my family. I suffered a huge financial loss as some of my stock expired during the lockdown.”