Some residents of Keetmanshoop are so addicted to tombo – a cheap homebrew made from sorghum and water – that they are drunk most of the time. A one-litre container of tombo costs around N$2.
Residents of Keetmanshoop have lately expressed dismay over the high consumption of the traditional beer, commonly known as tombo at the town.
They say the number of tombo outlets is on the rise, as they not regulated. These outlets are mostly situated in poorer residential areas and this is a huge problem as some people spend all their time at such places getting drunk.
Residents expressed these concerns during a town hall meeting with Keetmanshoop Urban Constituency Councillor and Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Hilmar Nikanor on Tuesday. Residents say the easy availability of tombo means some residents are drunk all the time, which renders them unproductive as community members.
Others added that because these places are not regulated they do not have to observe trading hours and can open or close at any time. People apparently flock to these places, because tombo is cheap and this lead to addiction, with some reduced to what one resident termed a permanent drunken stupor.
“It is the cheapest and easiest [alcoholic drink] to get and it keeps sending our people to their graves,” said one resident at the meeting.
A drive through the town’s poorer residential areas, Tseiblaagte and Ileni informal settlement, confirms the residents’ fears, as groups of people are seen gathered at several houses from as early as 07h00 in the morning. Uninformed passers-by would think they are having small community meetings, but they are in fact waiting patiently for their jug of tombo.
Residents expressed concern over alcohol abuse at the town in general, some saying the shebeens seem to be the only booming business at the town and that this trend is destroying the youth of the town. Giving suggestions on how to deal with the problem, residents indicated that drafting a law that will permit the import of alcohol with a certain level of alcohol content would reduce alcohol abuse.
Some suggested that shebeens be required to be built with soundproof materials, so as not to make noise in the residential areas. Others said more recreational facilities are needed at the town, as it would keep people from alcohol. Businesspeople at the meeting were urged to venture into other more productive businesses, instead of opening up more shebeens.
Other important issues discussed at the meeting included the Domestic Violence Act and Constituency Development Fund Bill, which received overwhelming support from the residents who said it would bring development closer to the people.