New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: The Plight of Rehoboth Youths

Rehoboth — While Rehoboth stands out like a sore thumb in terms of crime and poverty, alcohol, drug abuse and unprotective sex appears to be the substitute for sustainable jobs in the town.

Alexander Basson,21, laments the state of affairs relating how a number of his friends find themselves in the grip of drugs and alcohol abuse. He adds that he is most saddened by the fact that a number of his female friends continually finds themselves entangled in the spiral of teenage pregnancy, their futures dented forever. "I do not really have a problem or worries about the future , but I feel very sad to see my friends driven to alcohol and drugs and to see young girls that I grew up with fall pregnant because there are no jobs in this town.

Many of these young girls fall pregnant because they find men who can support them," Basson says adding that he feels no presence of the central government in the town.

"Aah, honestly I dont even think there are government officials here who can assist these young people. But there probably should be people like that here in Rehoboth who should help to create jobs for the town's youth but the best thing they can really do for this town is to shut down all shebeens and those places where young girls expose themselves," he advises.

Maria,24, not her real name, is a destitute mother who appears terribly helpless arguing that people in the town council are recruited on basis of nepotism and discrimination saying "they only give their own people jobs." "We suffer a lot, we do not have jobs. Just walk around Rehoboth and you will see how many young people sit in the shebeens because they do not have something else to keep themselves busy with. You can apply (for a job) at the town council, but where? You will not get that job because those people only put their families in there."

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rehoboth Town Council, Theo Jankowski, agrees that the rate of alcohol and drug abuse in the town has escalated. "It is very difficult to fight these shebeens. Council is not responsible for the issuing of licences but we advertise the notice in order to see if there are any objections from the public.

If we receive no objections then we must just send it through. Of course, there are a number of illegal shebeens but we do not really do much. Even the police hand's are cut off because these illegal shebeen owners formed a coalition and took their grievances to a union," he says adding that shebeens are a all-round menace to society.

"It is indeed true that children are disadvantaged by these shebeens but not only the children of their customers. I experienced it when I was a teacher. There was this one child that would sleep throughout every class , we later discovered that the poor child was responsible for operating the shebeen in the evening while other children his age were sound asleep."

Jankowski also highlights that the council is aware of the towns escalating youth unemployment issue , adding that it is a priority issue. "Look, we are aware of the unemployment issue, with us it is a priority. In the past we encouraged contractors who won tenders to recruit young people to teach them, to empower them and for the youth to develop an interest in working. They can dig trenches. But the contractors were not keen on this idea and argued the young people had no knowledge, no expertise, no know-how or any equipment or tools. So eventually they fell out of the equation," Jankowski says adding that when this idea fell through, the council resorted to recruiting some of the towns unemployed youth to work as casuals.

"We bring them in and appoint them in the finance department where they can assist with debt collection," he says admitting that the council has indeed failed in securing a sustainable environment and creating jobs for the towns youth.

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