Witvlei faces hopeless situation after abattoir closure

Witvlei: The closure of the Witvlei Abattoir late last year has left the many people at the sleepy village in hopeless despair, with many loitering in front of village shops in search of their next meal.

Before closing shop in the aftermath of a drastically reduced beef quota to Norway Witvlei abattoir had a force of over 200 workers. Residents on Tuesday said the closure has affected every aspect of their lives.

“All my furniture plus electrical appliances were repossessed. Right now I have nothing, I mean I have nothing,” said OvaviHenguva, a former employee of the company.

Henguva says he wakes up every morning to come to the shops to see if he can find some food to take to his family at home.

“What bothers us most is the fact that government is so quiet on this issue. No one is saying anything, not the company, not even our governor,” said the father of four. Felix Kavekondjo, who was a shop steward at the company, said the closure has affected the community heavily. “Some of us are even considering leaving the village, but the question remains: where to? Is it to Windhoek or where? we don’t know.”

He said there is some hope that the company may open its doors again soon, but under different owners. “I will be travelling to Gobabis tomorrow to meet the governor and councillors, so that we can table our grievances,” he said.

A high-ranking police officer at the village, who chose to remain anonymous, told this reporter that since the closure of the abattoir they have recorded a rapid increase in the number of poaching cases.

“There have been complaints by commercial farmers in the area of people hunting illegally on their farm lands. In this regard we had a meeting with the villagers and it was agreed that anyone selling meat at the village should have legal papers,” he said.

Principal Ben Geingob of Nossob Combined School told New Era on Tuesday that the closure of the abattoir did not only impact the employees, but also has a negative impact on learners at the school.

“Most of the learners are now complaining of not having anything to eat at home,” said Geingob.

“The closure of the abattoir has had a very negative impact on the learners at the school,” he said, adding that learners are now coming to school without having anything to eat for lunch,” he said.

“Mind you, we have afternoon classes every day for the grade ten learners as we are trying to prepare them for the end of the year final exams, but some will not turn up for class, citing one reason or another,” added the principal.

He said the abattoir was a very important contributor to economic empowerment and employment-creation in the area.

“All of us are very much worried about the closure and we are also worried about the possible increase in unemployment here,” he said. Urgent action must be taken to prevent villagers becoming hopeless, he said.