Street vendors in Windhoek’s Post Street Mall have bemoaned a lack of police presence and a slowing global economy for deteriorating sales during the just ended festive season.
Although a few vendors spoken to yesterday reported a slight increase in festive season sales, the majority confirmed that business indeed slowed down significantly during December 2016.
“Tourists are becoming scarce in Post Street Mall due to the escalating crime. These days tourists prefer to purchase their arts and crafts at more secure locations, such as lodges where they reside during their stay in the country,” said seasoned street vendor, Bertha Shimbulu, who trades close to the entrance of Agribank.
Shimbulu suggested that the City Police use neighbouring Botswana as an example, where she says a zero-tolerance attitude towards crime has been adopted.
One of Shimbulu’s neighbouring vendors, Christina Omole, reported good business during the festive season, but also complained about the escalating crime in the area.
“The City Police should really do something about the street kids and the beggars in the this area. They are causing many problems here by stealing valuables and by fighting each other when they are drunk. This kind of behaviour chases away the tourists and other shoppers,” said Omole.
Further down Post Street Mall, towards the entrance of Wernhill, another vendor, Casile Christophine, called on the City Police to have a constant presence in the area.
“The police pass by every now and then but the criminals now know their movements. They need to have a constant presence here, because we lose profits when the thieves steal our merchandise,” said Christophine.
Another vendor of African crafts, Wonder Makaule, said a relatively quiet festive season meant that not enough customers were visiting the area.
“It is like every year the business becomes less and less. One of the factors is not enough protection in the Post Street Mall,” said Makaule.
He added that many crimes, such as ATM crimes and pickpocketing, are committed on weekends, particularly Sundays, when there is a reduced police presence in the area.
Commenting yesterday on the rise in crime in the area, Chief of the City Police, Abraham Kanime, charged that some of the vendors themselves are also involved in crime.
“Our officers permanently follow those who are involved in crime to keep a close eye on them. But we also want to lease with the courts for stiffer sentences because many of these criminals have numerous outstanding cases against them,” said Kanime.
He continued that the City Police’s strategy to fight crime in Post Street Mall and other areas is through constant zonal patrols (on bicycle and on foot), through undercover officers working closely with the community, through technology (CCTV cameras are constantly monitored), as well as through community policing.
“We also want to warn individuals not to let criminals distract them. You must ensure that your car is properly locked. Do not go to isolated ATMs or isolated corners and do not leave valuables in your car,” Kanime cautioned.
According to the City of Windhoek’s coordinator for micro entrepreneurial development, within the
Department of Economic Development and Environment, Kondjashili Shipoke, there are about 18 markets in Windhoek that accommodate about 1110 traders.
“There many illegal traders but they are difficult to account for as many of them are mobile. Some are seasonal while others are temporary until a job has been secured,” said Shipoke.
He added that the City Police has a by-law, which deals with illegal traders. “The consequences of illegal trading range from warnings, fines and arrests if the acts persist,” he said.