Monday 17 May 2021
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Team Tshabalala – ‘russians on the road’

By Staff Repoter

A leisurely drive into the heart of Hakahana ended off with a random chat with Jerobeam Haifene.
Popularly known as Tshabalala by the locals, the “warm russian” salesman works 364 days a year and only takes a break on Christmas day.
“I started in 2009 when I was done with school. I started this so I could take care of myself and to give myself a good life. This is just who I am. I started with selling sweets, then I moved on to chips. I wasn’t forced to do this. It’s just who I am.”
Meandering through the busy streets of Havana, Greenwell Matongo, Okuruyangava, Hakahana, Soweto and Ombili, Tshabala tries to cover all the hot spots where he normally finds his customers.
“My work day is a 15 hour day and I knock off at 24h00. I sell up to 100 russians a day and I sell them at 10 dollars.”
Tshabalala describes his biggest challenges as “not enough stock. I buy from someone in Hakahana but sometimes he doesn’t have enough russians. Then my business suffers”.
On a daily basis, Tshabalala sees the location or township unfold in front of him.
“I see children everywhere I go. School children going and coming. Sometimes they have fun, they play football in the street, some of them fight and others dance.
I see people trying their best, also making business as me. They sell kapana, they sell fruit, they fix cars, they braid hair. And then the taxis – insulting people.  I watch especially the taxi drivers and they keep shouting at me telling me to remove my bicycle from the road. I am also a human being and I have the same right as them to be on the road.”
Tshabalala wishes for taxi drivers to be more courteous because without the people they harass daily, who would their customers be?
“I struggle when schools are closed. Then I go to hair salons, garages and also at people’s houses. I sell also to people who hang around in the sun.”
Asked about safety on the streets of Windhoek, Tshabalala says he has never been robbed. “I am always safe. I don’t show off my money nor do I go and drink.  Anyways, I move with God, so He always protects me. God is the main One, so start your day with him.”
To the young people, his advice is that they follow his example. “I have never looked for a job. I took my talent seriously and that is my pride.”
Inspired by the great Tshabalala, we leave the dusty streets of Katutura excited to face another day.

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