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Hustling gunners

by Khaula Nhongo


Some Namibian Defence Force members, where the lowest ranked earn N$1300, have become hustlers – they drive taxis from the city to Unam.

Just like in any hustling, non-soldier taxi drivers are furious with the gunmen whom they accuse of using force to get passengers.

The drivers are even scared of being seen talking to the media, “I cannot be seen talking to you,” said one driver who declined to give his name for fear of victimisation.”

But the driver admitted that they were losing business to the gunmen, “They are taking our customers. It is not fair.”

This is the general feeling among other drivers who could not give both their names and comments.

Army spokesperson, Peter Shilumbu was very distraught and surprised when asked about his men driving taxis when they are supposed to be in barracks.

 “They are not supposed to be driving taxis. They are supposed to be on duty,” he said before requesting for information so that they could investigate.

Namibian Bus and Taxis Association, office administrator, Uadingena Karuaera confirmed that there were some NDF members driving taxis but said they own the cars and so they can drive.

“They can drive as long as it does not infringe on their duties,” he said dismissing claims that they take passengers by force.

“That is rubbish. How somebody can steal customers is beyond me. They are engaging themselves in the trade.”

Army privates are among some of the poorly paid earning N$1300 although Defence received among the biggest chunk of the N$43b budget.

Without any war going on in Namibia and with peace-keeping missions far in-between, most gunmen spend their time playing draughts in barracks.

As a result, they are supposed to be on duty for two weeks per month and then spend the other two off duty.