PENEYAMBEKO Shikemeni (48) from Windhoek’s Okahandja Park informal settlement makes a living by selling kapana and relish alongside the road near the settlement’s open market.
She says business has not been the same since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Before the pandemic, I would get customers who would buy meat worth N$100, but that has reduced to only N$10 or N$15 per customer,” she says.
Shikemeni says customers are scarce nowadays, and tend to negotiate on the price, complaining that the pieces of meat are too small.
“Many people have lost their jobs, and we have lost a lot of customers as a result. Butcheries’s prices also keep rising, and we tend to make more losses than profits,” she says.
The mother of five lives with her children, granddaughter, niece, and nephew.
She says she moved to Windhoek in 2005 and has been a vendor since.
Shikemeni hails from Onamunhama village in the Ohangwena region.
“I send my children to school with the little I make from selling kapana and relish. My children are not beneficiaries of any social grant. I applied for one of them for the N$250 social grant three months ago, but have not received any response from the ministry,” she says.
Shikemeni says she used to be able to buy stock every day, but now only stocks up once or twice a week.
When asked what happens to the unsold meat, she says: “I cut it into thinner, straight pieces, dry it, and pack it into boxes, but this sells at a snail’s pace,” she says.
Shikemeni says being a vendor is all about the survival of the fittest.
“Depending on the day of the week, I get up before five in the morning to make it to the butchery’s queues on time, and to make it back home to prepare for the rest of the day,” she says.
She says her household does not have electricity, “and we buy wood from those who are in the wood business”.
Shikemeni says she has a knee problem, which makes it hard to fetch her own wood to save money and to stand in queues.
“I will, however, continue selling and hoping to make some money to save for next year’s back-to-school situation, and also to make enough for transportation to the north for the festive season.”