Close to nine under-aged learners at Karundu Primary School at Otjiwarongo were allegedly caught smoking a water pipe called 'hubbly-bubbly' on the school premises.
It is alleged that the learners sneaked in the 'hubbly bubbly'. After smoking the intoxicating concoction, they threatened to cause havoc by vandalising school property. However, teachers stopped them before they could cause any damage.
Otjiwarongo Town Council Mayor, Hilda Jesaja expressed concern over the habit among school-going children. The mayor said Julius Neumbo, who is the principal of the primary school and local authority councillor, brought the matter to the attention of council and residents on Tuesday during a meeting over water bills. Hubbly-bubbly is also known as a tobacco water pipe. According to health experts, smoking a 'hubbly bubbly' for one hour is as harmful as smoking up to 200 cigarettes.
"Kids, both girls and boys were caught smoking on the school premises. Although I have not seen this hubbly bubbly thing, it is apparently bought in China shops," the Mayor said. She explained that during the meeting with residents a decision was taken to alert the police about the incident.
"The police were not aware of this hubbly- bubbly. But we informed them at least. We also informed the parents because they might just see their children with a thing, but they don't know the dangers associated with it," she said.
She said the nine minors were not suspended or expelled from the school, but their parents were told about the incident. The school has since confiscated the 'hubbly-bubbly'. Otjozondjupa Regional Police Commander, Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo laid the blame squarely at the feet of the councillor.
"I don't understand him as a councillor. He could have come to us. It is naïve to bring up issues like that during a community meeting. I am doubting his leadership," Anghuwo fumed. The Commissioner also blamed Neumbo for allegedly raising issues on 'practices of Satanism', but failing to pinpoint those responsible.
"He also claims that there are two ladies, one from Otjiwarongo and the other from Grootfontein having a Satanism organisation (sic). He said these two women are sucking blood from pregnant women. He never came forward with relevant information. I think he just hears rumours and start talking.
Even the hubbly-bubbly thing, no one has come to the police to lodge a case. He went to raise the issue at a meeting that had nothing to do with crime," the police chief further said.
However, Neumbo himself was not available for comment by the time of going to press. The growing popularity of smoking flavoured tobacco in water pipes, particularly by young people is increasing in Namibia. Young people buy flavoured tobbaco for as much as N$25, while the hubbly bubbly costs no less than N$100. There is a widespread misconception that smoking water-pipe tobacco, also known as shisha, hookah and argileh, is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.