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NamRA official’s counterfeit goods shop not raided

2022-05-16  Eveline de Klerk

NamRA official’s counterfeit goods shop not raided
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WALVIS BAY – The Namibia Revenue Agency has been given 48 hours by Walvis Bay small businesses, street sellers and community activists to take action against their chief customs officer from the enforcement section at Walvis Bay.

The customs official, Pamela Smith, allegedly owns Swagga.com, a branded clothing and shoe shop at Walvis Bay with her husband Basie Smith. But their shop was not raided on Friday morning as she allegedly tipped off her husband and employees. 

They allegedly also sell branded counterfeit goods, despite her being the officer responsible for enforcing the law on counterfeit goods.

Their staff members were seen by neighbouring businesses while removing their goods from the shop on Thursday.

When called on Friday, Smith denied that she is an employee of customs. Her husband denied knowing of the raid, before abruptly ending the call.

“I was at the shop this morning. You can ask my rental agent and my alarm company as well… bye,” Basie said, despite the shop being closed and its windows covered with newspapers. They were, however, operating on Thursday.

Some employees of NamRA who spoke anonymously on Saturday told New Era that it is unfair that someone who should enforce the law is in the same business, and is never affected by these raids.

“The last time their goods were confiscated was in 2020. Our former director knew about this, but nothing was done. We have nothing against her business, but she needs to be held accountable and the same law should apply to her as well,” the officials charged.

In contrast, Afro Fashion, a stone’s throw from the Smith’s shop was raided by customs officials, accompanied by Nike and Puma representatives.

The owner of the shop, Joyce Paulo, told this publication that they were told big retail shops are complaining that they are losing out on revenue due to counterfeit goods which are flooding the market.

“We have all our documents, but they still told us our things are fake. We buy our goods from overseas. Original goods are very pricey, that’s why we are buying first copies and rejects from factories,” Paulo explained shortly after the officers left with at least three bags of goods.

 

According to Paulo, the officers told her that they are trained in spotting counterfeit goods, yet they took over 50 shoes and shirts from her shop to verify.

“They took my goods so that they can send them to the manufacturers to see if it’s original or fake, despite them being trained,” she lamented.

NamRA to investigate

NamRA spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu yesterday told New Era that they will launch an internal investigation into the allegations.

“Thank you for bringing this information to our attention. An internal investigation will be carried out, and if it’s found that there indeed exist a prima facie case, the allegations will be dealt with within NamRA’s disciplinary procedures,” he stated.

We are coming for NamRA

Activist Knowledge Ipinge yesterday also questioned why Swagga.com was not raided. He said NamRA should deal with everyone the same way, including China shops, and not only target Namibian businesses.

“They need to tell us how many China shops they raided on Friday as we observed none of them removing anything from China shops. In fact, branded items were still displayed in China shops after their so-called raid,” a furious Ipinge charged.

He added that NamRA also owes every Namibian an explanation why a customs official who is enforcing the law is in the same business, yet the rules for the ordinary Namibian do not apply to her. 

“Is this not a clear conflict of interest? How did they know about the raid? That shop has been open every day, even on Thursday, yet they managed to dodge the raid on Friday. What does this tell us about the operations of NamRA?  We need answers within the next 48 hours, otherwise NamRA will have a bigger problem at hand,” Ipinge said.

He then accused Sam Shivute (NamRA Commissioner) and his officials of not understanding the Customs and Excise Act of 1998, thus forcing more people into poverty.

“The Act does not prohibit the export of goods from licensed factories in South Africa or other parts of the world. The factories I am referring to are the very same factories that supply retailers with branded items. What is more flabbergasting is that most “order with me” operators are selling the first copies that are much better quality than those sold in capitalist and Chinese shops,” Ipinge continued.

He reiterated his demand that they address the issue, or face resistance from all over the country.

“We will stand up for our “order with me” sisters, and will mobilise ourselves countrywide for the biggest protest you will ever see,” Ipinge said.

 

 

 


2022-05-16  Eveline de Klerk

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