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Angolan beer enters Namibia’s bootleg market

Angolan beer enters Namibia’s bootleg market

Placido Hilukilwa

CERVEJA Cuca, the Angolan beer that predominated the informal liquor market in northern Namibia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but disappeared when the Angolan civil war broke out in 1975, is now making a comeback, being smuggled into Namibia as replacement for the local beer that is no longer being sold due to lockdown regulations.


The Namibian police in the border regions of Omusati and Ohangwena have reported that some unscrupulous Namibian shebeen owners are now secretly smuggling Angolan beer into Namibia to re-stock their businesses, after having run out of stock as they continued to trade even after closing their shebeens as required by lockdown regulations.


It is alleged that, having no possibility of re-stocking from local liquor wholesalers, some shebeen owners are now smuggling liquor from Angola where liquor and tobacco products appear to still be freely available.
Except the Angolan beer brands such as Cerveja Cuca and N’Gola, smugglers also bring in the so-called ‘Ovambo liquor’, Whiskey, Brandy and ‘Yes’ cigarettes.


Cerveja Cuca Angolan beer Namibia bootleg market liquor
Picture for illustrative purposes only


Shebeens in northern Namibia are also known as “Cuca shops” exactly because it was in these informal businesses where Cuca beer was sold illegally before the independence of Angola in 1975.


Cuca beer, brewed in Angola since the 1940s, was widely available in the northern parts of Namibia until 1975 when the brewery was confiscated and nationalized by the new Marxists-Leninist government of President Agostinho Neto.


However, Cuca beer is once again available together with other beer brands that are now being imported illegally.
According to the police, cross-border liquor smugglers are not only engaged in illegal business, but have also the potential of carrying the coronavirus across the international border which is currently closed.


“We have apprehended some of them and placed them in the quarantine. They will be charged after serving the mandatory 14-day quarantine,” said Omusati police spokesperson Lineekela Shikongo.


Meanwhile, Angola has lengthened its lockdown till 25 May.


The number of its confirmed cases of coronavirus has more than doubled during the past few days – now at 43 – what is seen as a serious threat to Namibia because of “the open border” between the two countries.


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