New Era (Windhoek)

10 August 2010

Namibia: Poor Quality Fabric Causes Uproar in City

Windhoek — Enraged seamstresses operating from the Horseshoe Market in Katutura yesterday marched to the Hong Kong Market in the northern industrial area where they confronted a shop owner who sold them sub-standard textile.

At the centre of the controversy was the pink, black and white fabric that is popular in the Oshiwambo culture and is used mainly for sewing ceremonial Oshiwambo traditional attire such as "ondelela".

The unhappy customers complained that they bought the material in bulk on Saturday, with the intention to start sewing on Sunday. Prior to sewing, they washed the fabric, as is the norm. But much to their surprise, the textile instantly faded in colour when washed, while some pieces even frayed in the process.

This angered the buyers, who confronted Lu Yang, the shop owner of Mulungushi Namibia Textile. They demanded a full refund from him.

Yang blamed the suppliers of the material, saying he had not seen the material prior to stocking it in his shop.

Thus, he had not tested the quality of the material, he said.

"I am very sorry, this is bad for business, but I will take it back to the supplier as I too have lost a lot of money in getting the material," Yang said.

He thanked the customers for their understanding.

Helena Shinyala, one of the affected seamstresses, told New Era that they made the move to illustrate that, as customers, they are entitled to quality service.

"We are happy that the shop owner understood our concerns, there was no way that we would have made our clients happy with such low quality material. My plea is that shop owners should not to short-change us, their customers, with this kind of service."

Small retailers in the Northern Industrial area, or what is known as China Town, are famous for selling poor quality goods, sometimes even fake ones for exceptionally low prices.

Such goods appear to be a bargain at first, but ultimately turn out to be a financial loss for those who buy them, as they get no value for their money.

Some of the neatly stacked rows of goods turn out to be counterfeit. Such goods have flooded the local market. They range mostly from fake brand names in music audios, CDs, DVDs, food, perfumes, clothing and jewellery. These Asian shops, mostly run by Chinese expatriates, are notorious for selling counterfeit products that resemble well-known brands ranging from sports items such as Nike to even toiletries

Custom officials say trade in counterfeit goods is big business in Namibia with large consignments crossing the border into the country each year.

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