Category Archives: Cover Story

M+Z’s Upward Path

In the fast-paced, ever-changing and increasingly complex automotive world, there are few moments when an industry can take stock of progress. Call it a line in the sand. A moment of reflection. A measurement of success.

Think about it. Twelve years ago, Verena Grüttemeyer would not have predicted that a woman would be running a car company in Namibia, or that it would be M+Z Group? That time she was caught in what she loved best, nature. The panoramic views of Otavi where she and her husband ran a lodge is all that she called the world to her.

Today, Verena’s decidedly unconventional career arc is now inspiring women in a range of jobs, spanning from ank and fine enginers to car dealers, to think big.

A fourth generation Managing Director of the group and grand-daughter of Ernst Behnsen, one of the original key players of the M+Z brand in the 1920s, Verena Grüttemeyer now runs the second largest dealer group in Namibia, which sells up to 3 260 new and pre-owned vehicles annually. Humble to the very basics of the word, she’s become a bit of an icon, which is cool.

We need those kinds of role models, because a lot of women would not even think of the auto industry. Much cooler is how her brand portfolio has thrived over the last twelve years from Autohaus Truck & Bus, Audi Centre Windhoek, Autohaus Windhoek & Swakopmund, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, M+Z Motors Commercial Vehicles to M+Z Motors Passenger Vehicles.

The 111-year M+Z legacy is safe and the auto industry being considered as a clubby man’s world is now history. It all started when she pondered building a diverse management team, many of whom are still with her.

She was tasked with responsibility of customer relations and business expansion opportunities when she joined the company in 2002, and it was clear the values of Metje, Behnsen and Ziegler were in her DNA from the onset.

Under her tutelage, Grüttemeyer drew focus on creating a culture of commitment and purpose amongst M+Z employees, promoting from within and investing generously in development and training activities. That’s all still work in progress. But so far, has resulted in employees lasting longer in the company, with efficient team dynamics and a collective mind-set to achieve the collective goals.

Says Verena; “I believe in honesty. If the customer can trust you, they will buy from you. One of our strongest convictions here is building trust with people. If they can trust that you will look after their interests then they will come back. Our achievements are based on trust, courage, responsibility, respect, integrity and transparency.”

The progress of women in the auto industry in the last decade is still argumentative.

However for Verena, the technical recession and massive cost-cutting might actually present oportunities for new ideas, new hands, new faces, an opportunity for women to rebound. As the industry has been coming out of the crisis, there have been many more opportunities available, and many of them have been filled by women. So many companies will add more women to add a different perspective of doing business.

There are more roles and responsibilies, at higher levels, for women, and I think it will continue to improve even more in the coming years. A challenging economic 2017 troubled many in the auto industry and many companies either closed or retrenched.

She adds, “Through strategic planning and team work, we managed to avoid retrenchments. In the midst of a huge reduction in vehicle sales and turnover in the last 18 months, my message was to stay calm, not panic and be innovative. And I think we are on the verge to overtaking the pre-2012 trends. The upward path looks imminent.”

Digitalising has been a key transformative part of businesses the world over and it will play a role in M+Z remaining a household name for the next 111 years, she says of the future.

“Electronic cars are the future and as M+Z we have to look into that. We have to embrace the future. We have to be on the leading edge of this industry and look into various opportunities,” she says.

The M+Z Motors on the corner of Lazarett & Patterson Street in southern Industry in Windhoek was the culmination of Grüttemeyer’s dream to have a high-grade facility that matches what the brand deserves. And that was at a time when few saw into the future. To be able to offer the best service to its customers, M+Z
has embarked on a fundamental restructuring. New dealerships have been added and new structures with new responsibilities set.

All Pre-Delivery Inspections (PDI’s) have been centralised into one facility and a smart repair centre has been established. Every customer is important at M+Z and they have been committed to offer state of the art facilities irrespective of their vehicles make, value or model. Just as Elena Ford, the great-great-grand-daughter of Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Company, because the first female Ford to hold a Vice Presidential post within the company in 2013, this great-great-granddaughter of the oldest motoring company in Namibia is not pampered by the familiar surname.

For her, leading a family business that has existed for over a century has all to do with preparing the legacy for the next generation M&Zites and the next generation of M+Z clients, while contributing to economic growth by focusing on consumer experience, overseeing best practices to expand footprint and impact. “These values determine our actions in our daily dealing with customers and business partners as well as in our teamwork and our collaboration with each other. Every single member of the “Metje + Ziegler” family takes this responsibility serious and therefor carries our culture forward.”

Taking pride in the fact that in 1936 M+Z was awarded one of the first Mercedes-Benz Franchises in Africa, she drives a Mercedes-Benz GLE. The royal lion portrait and cactus in her office potray her love for nature.

Indeed, years of the corporate world have not snuffed out her passion for the outdoors. In fact, Grüttemeyer begins each morning with a horseback ride, which helps clear her mind and prepares her mentally for the day before she joins her husband and son for breakfast.

“I have a short meeting with my management team when I get into the office and then after that I like to be out there in the field with the team, working. I don’t like to be in the office too much unless I have to do some administrative work. I am a very private person, I love the company of my family so we have a meal together at lunch.”

Her daughter, a medical student, has no dreams of joining the family business, just as Verena thought 15 years ago. “Don’t quit”. Is the mantra that drives Verena. You get a feeling even her colleagues at work, feel it for themselves, and, perhaps, just as much, for the female colleagues she mentors and inspires subconsciously.

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The surge of Tulimeke Munyika

Since completing her attachment with Algade in France where she finalised her research paper on exposure to radio-protection, the graph of Tulimeke Munyika (TM) has transcended faster than she imagined.

A one-time chairperson of MTC, she still serves the country’s biggest corporates as director and was recently appointed as board member to the beleaguered Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). And for someone sitting in a dilapidated government building for the past 12 years, someone who has never worked in the Namibian private sector, her glittering stars caught our attention. Besides, she is just 33.

How do you describe your transition across the boardrooms of Namibia?

You make it sound like it’s a lot of boardrooms. Duh. With the new appointment as Director on NSFAF Board, I will now be serving on two boards. The transition between the two should be exciting, how can it not be?

Whilst the principles of governance remain the same, MTC and NSFAF have distinct missions and this requires that I equip myself with appropriate knowledge for each boardroom. I anticipate the transition to be one that involves considerable reading, which I am delighted to do.

But was it luck or sheer determination for you to be this high at an early age? We do not have so many women in corporate Namibia upper echelons.

It wasn’t luck, I don’t believe in luck. I believe in the favour of God. I also don’t think it was determination only. I have always been determined to do my best. While doing the best I can where I am, I was noticed and subsequently entrusted with additional responsibilities. That has been my recipe; to do the best I can.

I would in fact urge nominating and appointing authorities to be open-minded and be aware of the bigger Namibian environment, not only look at those who are already in the corporate world.

There are many capable women out there, some are in Government like me. Let’s look beyond what our eyes usually see.

But is your leadership and impact being felt?

I would be blowing my own horn now. I cannot measure it myself but I believe the impact is felt. One wouldn’t be entrusted with more (national) responsibilities, if they are not delivering on existing mandates. Maybe that is an indication that the impact is being felt.

Leadership and the intended impact need not be the type that changes the world at one go; we can change the world by impacting one person, one institution or one community at a time. It is about influence. That’s where we start and it’s not magical.

So what are your key priorities then, to ensure that you maintain your leadership in the industry?

Continuous education and willingness are key because they place me on “ready mode” to serve.

Maintaining leadership should be understood in the context that when we are appointed as directors we are called to serve and to act in the best interest of the organisation, not to just sit and look pretty. My key priority is one: continue sharpening myself.

From MTC to now, NSFAF, what form do your efforts take in leading change and how do you engage stakeholders in these efforts?

Change, positive change, can and should happen but ideally only after careful consideration of relevant information. Leading change should not be impulsive. I cannot over-emphasise continuous education. So, my efforts take the form of first equipping myself with knowledge (you can’t do without it).

My contribution is mainly done in the boardroom but not limited to the boardroom of course. There is always need for consultative engagements with relevant stakeholders to the business environment.

The mode and processes for consultations differ depending on the relationship with that stakeholder. You cannot leave stakeholders behind.

What are the distinct challenges in meeting your mandates in each of the Boards that you sit in on?

For MTC, it’s the technical nature of the industry and the fast pace at which technological innovation evolves. This is a challenge for me because of my background which is not ICT, but law.

You can only make a meaningful contribution in the boardroom if you are up to date with industry developments. So, I keep myself as updated as possible.

For NSFAF, time will tell.

Regulation. Would you say the communications sector is over-regulated or under regulated, particularly when you look at affordability and stable tariffs? Where is change needed?

Price and affordability of services, not just in the telecommunications sector but generally everywhere, will always be a topic of discussion, because they are relative terms. My view is that whatever the prices, customers must get good value for their money.

Of paramount importance in this eco-system is an independent and competent regulator which Namibia has to ensure there is proper regulation and sufficient protection to customers against exploitation.

How do you see the communications industry evolving towards 2030?

I foresee growth. Namibia must and will be in an up and forward direction but the growth will not happen accidentally. The national developmental goals are achievable but role-players in the industry must be intentional about realising that upward evolution.

This includes the necessary investment injections into necessary spheres. I am proud to be associated with MTC which is intentional about industry growth.

In the next 2 years for example MTC intends to expand network capacity to a tune of N$1.1 billion through the 081EVERY1 initiative. Telecommunications industry cannot thrive without quality network infrastructure.

In the Namibian space, I see more telecommunications operators – new ones and strengthened old ones. This is foreseeable because we have the ingredients to make the environment even more conducive. Yes, it is competition for MTC but it is good for the maturity of the industry and development of the country.

I personally want to see more Namibians embracing the available innovations in the market. Let’s embrace the digital world.

You have been an MTC board member for a considerable time, where will the growth come from for MTC, looking ahead?

The growth of MTC has always been centered around its customer-base. I anticipate it to remain so.

But where is the risk?

Competition in the market will be a risk looking ahead, but looking at the bigger picture its good for the market and it is an advantage for the customer.

Risk is not all bad because it can be managed and it pushes us to do better because there is always room for improvement. MTC will be sure to also evolve innovatively.

Tell Us one interesting fact that isn’t generally known about you?

There is generally nothing known about me so I will give you one fact about myself: despite one common but incorrect assumption of my origin, I hail from the banks of the Kavango River.

With an exception of three months in my 12-year career, I have worked for the Government of Namibia since completing my studies at the University of Namibia in 2006.

Well, I got a job with B2Gold between January and March of 2013 as a legal coordinator, but it failed to resonate with my heart.

One could call my stint there as a fly-by-night type of thing without me taking offense as I immediately left when my current job called, and here, I feel at home.”even though it pays less than what B2Gold was offering me.

Is it results or it’s the people? What do you emphasise on?

It is people, they bring about the results.

What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

Integrity, honesty, confidence and open-mindedness.

At this stage, how do you get others to accept your ideas?

Three sure ways. One is by being open-minded. I have seen that others are open to my ideas when they know I am open to theirs. This does not mean I agree with everything that is out there but I am open to listen and understand; even if I end up disagreeing.

Another thing I quickly learnt in the workplace is that being knowledgeable makes a huge difference. So, I always try to make sure that I know my stuff.

I have also learnt to be assertive when I know I am right. This is an important one because sometimes I meet people who choose to only see me as a “petite young woman” and disregard the authority I carry.

In a time, such as this, (where we must all make determined efforts to develop this country) women must be seen for who they really are and not who “society” has packaged them to be – this way women can be recognised and be availed equal opportunities of responsibility.

A recent research by the Hay Group of US company Korn Fery established that women leaders score higher than men on emotional intelligence competencies, do you think this makes women better leaders/managers?

I am hesitant to make general comparisons between men and women because we are all uniquely made. Although emotional intelligence is important, it is not the only factor that matters. Other attributes also play a role.

What must however be clear is that women are also capable.

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Ouma Tjivikua: Namibia’s most successful grandmother turns 85

She must lean against the wall of her Katutura house (in Marula ) to support her legs to walk. Her health is not the best, she is asthmatic and lately, walks with difficulty due to her swollen legs brought by old age.

“Being old is good, but it has challenges. The good part is that I have no worries in life, not a single regret. The only problem are the legs that swell up here and there and stop me from going to church,” Ouma Tjivikua explains as she throws herself with a brief sigh, on a wooden chair, “Ouma’s chair”, where she automatically seems to have gathered all the energy.

Her smile is wide, infectious, it’s a winning smile. There seems to be a connection between the energy she assumed since sitting on her chair and the smile. On the 7th of October, she turns 85.  She speaks so immaculately in the Queen’s English as if it is her mother tongue.

Royalty defines Ouma Tjivikua. Of her 13 children, she has lost two, the first and the sixth-born. Her success lies in the products of her womb, she says.

A retired nurse, Ouma Tjivikua credits her children’s success to the family values that she has embedded in them since childhood.

“When my husband died in 1985, three of my children were outside Namibia, namely James, Tjama and Michael. It needed a certain strength from the Almighty to keep and protect my children as they grew and matured first into men and women, then into national leaders. Family values and preservation of culture became the secret. I learned that by sending my children to school. Education is important. If the Tjivikua name will stand the test of time, we need to keep sending our grandchildren to schools across the world, and keeping them within the values of our culture,” she says.

All but one of her 10 remaining children are married and have taken up the aspect of the family as a key facet of growth.

Today’s parents must teach their children those same family values. They are fundamental to nation building and preserving of our culture. Look at me, my skin is lighter than yours, but I want all my children and grandchildren to understand our Herero culture and appreciate family. That is who we are and that has been the secret.

Secret to Long-Life

She recalls how some people rejected her, especially in the late-70’s and mid-80s. “I was ‘too-SWAPO”, they said. But I did not lose focus. Till today, I have never smoked, I have never touched alcohol and I read my bible twice a day. There is no other secret. Why I mentioned my husband’s death is because it was a trying time for me where I could have lost it and done things I would have regretted. But I remained consistent.”

Born Kutuai Kaura at Okaundja, in the Okakarara area, Ouma Tjivikua moved to Swakopmund with her half-German mother to complete Standard 2. By then only Windhoek had three schools reaching Standard 6 (now Grade 8). Upon completing Standard 2 in Swakopmund, she was made to stay in the same grade for two more years as her mother contemplated moving to Windhoek.

The family eventually moved to the capital in 1945 where she enrolled to complete her studies (Standard 6) at the Rhenish Mission Herero School. There she became one of the first netball players of Namibia in 1947.

“By then I had an edge over my classmates because of the two years I had spent repeating Standard 2 in Swakopmund, for there was no higher school grade. “I completed my Standard 6 in Ongombombonde, Waterberg because the government had opened a new school there. I went into nursing in Otjiwarongo in 1950 and by 1952 at the age of 20, I got married,” she recalls.

When her husband Festus Tjivikua, a teacher, was transferred from Otjiwarongo to Ovitoto, there was neither a hospital nor a clinic, thus she was forced to abandon her nursing passion.

Much later in 1984, she was requested by a medical doctor, Dr Withun, to undertake Nursing studies.  Instead, she volunteered to become Administrative Assistant at the Katutura State Hospital, where she served in Administration and then in the Pharmacy until 1993 when she retired.

“Because my father was an Evangelical Lutheran Priest, I spent time reading the bible to students at the school where my husband was teaching.”

She has been an active member of the SWAPO Party since 1964. As the interview drags on, it becomes obvious that Ouma Tjivikua has thrice my age but, twice the energy. In between, one of her great-grandchildren interjects us by demanding attention. She attends to him and upon her return to our interview, is eager to offer our team breakfast—all the while chatting away about her life and her family.

Ouma Tjivikua talks about family more than anything else. And no wonder—she has made children the focus of her life.

“I have lived in this house for 34 years. They have brought me offers to move to better suburbs but I have a life here. This is the house of the Tjivikuas first, she says, staring blindly at an old Panasonic boxed TV.”

“Everything has been easy for me. Not because of money, no. I have never chased money or the joys of this world. Why seek luxuries when you have the joy of the heart? I do not have the regrets of the past, they will keep me hostage,” she continues.

Every day she whiles away the time on her needle-work.

“I knit for my family. All of them have worn what I sew. I do not want to do it for the money. The money will kill me because thinking about it makes me weak.”

Every weekend her sons, daughters, and grandchildren gather at Ouma’s house.

“I wish everybody could have the opportunity to reach my age.  We are all different. Some are so poor, some live very different lives than me. But when you are my age, it is not about poverty or riches, it is love. We all love our grandchildren and we want to prepare our journeys, clear the road for ourselves and our families when we’re gone. It boosts me when they are all here.”

As we bid farewell, we joke at her insistence that ‘no photos today, come when I am properly dressed for photos.’ We agree she maybe 85, but when you look at her you’d never believe it.

She’s an energetic worker and she loves joking. She’s wise and loves telling stories of the old days, but she is not an old woman. She remains Super Woman!

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Meet Mr Matangara: Sylvanus Bobboh Kathindi


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Being Sidney Martin’s son

Not so long ago in 2013, Sidney Martin rolled in a then 458 Spider Ferrari, the first in Namibia. His family trust was a multi-million dollar empire, and the sun was shining brighter.

Back then Martin would occasionally drive to his Witvlei factory with his only son, Tuundja-kuje. Here, young women would hi-5 Martin as he walked around, Tuundja-kuje would witness how older women would at times approach his father, and nearly swooning. Others would grasp his father’s arm and lay their heads on his chest, as he patted their backs, murmuring thank you in Afrikaans.

By millionaire standards Martin lives a modest lifestyle. Married to one of Namibia’s most glamorous women, Petronella Karuaihe-Martin, Chief Executive of Namibre, their only son is readying to grow the Martin name. For being a Martin, life for 23-year-old Tuundja-kuje is about learning from the apple he fell from.

One of the beneficiaries of the multi-million dollar Family Trust, Tuundja-kuje rolls in a Jeep Wrangler, although being an adrenaline junkie, it is the Porsche and Ferrari that he prefers most.

Upon completion of his undergraduate in the Bachelor of Social Science, Majoring in International Relations and Economic History at the University of Cape Town, he recently took a vacation in the Maldives.

And has just settled in Johannesburg at Wits for his post-graduate LLB. “Growing up as Sydney Martin’s son is like growing up with a fountain of knowledge.  It is not the money, it is his wisdom and character that gets you going. My father is an exceptional leader that has the life experiences of an 80-year-old. As a child, I always wondered how he always knew what to do when difficult challenges came his way. My dad has written my manual of life,” he says.

Having watched his father build up a multi-million-dollar empire, Tuundja-kuje has adopted his own life-motto—things don’t just happen overnight—and is prepared to outlive his father’s legacy.

A multi-sport disciplinary fellow, Tuundja-kuje is active in soccer, squash, swimming, karate, hockey and has received numerous sporting merits over the past years, in particular, a bronze medal at the Karate World Championships in 2010, coupled with being his High School’s 2011 Sportsman of the Year.

“You do not need to be smart academically alone. One needs to learn to use their hands and showcase other talents they have. There is a thin line between working hard and working smart. I practice both,” he says.

Tuundja-kuje is mentored by Frank Fredericks, thanks to a symbiotic love for sport, and the two also have a father-and-son relationship.

Yet, it is a fishing excursion with Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma at Terrace Bay that he holds dear to.

“My parents inspire me equally however in different ways. My mom inspires me to keep working hard academically as there’s always a reward in the end.

My father inspires me through his abilities to help and better the lives of other Namibians in the best of his abilities, but when I am an accorded an opportunity to spend the day with Sam Nujoma, the man from our history books, in real life? That is unforgettable.”

Tuundja-kuje is pondering life in property development, once he is back in the country.

“I am interested in the housing developing market. I am a strong believer in property. Trying to aid and find a solution to the big housing epidemic in Namibia. It has to come from a Martin,” he says.

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Why Some Mothers Kill Their Children


According to a 2005 study, maternal filicide occurs more frequently in the United States than developing nations.

On October 2, 2006 31-year-old single mother Elaine Campione took out her video camera and filmed her two young daughters, three-year-old Serena and 19-month-old Sophia, playing around their Barrie, Ontario, apartment. In the footage, clips of Serena coloring in the living room and telling her mother how much she loves her are intercut with Sophia splashing in the bath water while Campione sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Later, off camera, Campione drowned her two daughters in the family bathtub. She dried off their bodies, put them in their pajamas, and laid the girls hand-in-hand on her bed, a turquoise rosary and a photo album between the deceased sisters. She then took what she thought was an overdose of clozapine (a medication prescribed to treat bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia) and went back into her living room to continue recording.

The video shows Campione now alone, sitting on her couch, sobbing as she rants toward the camera she’s set across the room. The nearly ten-minute long manifesto is directed at her ex-husband, Leo Campione, whom she claims beat and abused her and their eldest daughter. The couple was in the middle of a heated custody battle. (After their divorce, Campione and the girls moved to a women’s shelter and then assisted living.) The Campiones were due in court later that week.

“Here, are you happy now? The children are gone… How does that make you feel, Leo?” she asks the camera. “I hate you, Leo. You are the devil. You wanted to win; you won. Are you happy? How does it make you feel? Because it doesn’t make me feel great. I’ve lost everything… I’ll never know what my children would have become.”

According to Campione’s own account, she turned off the camera and then passed out, hoping she would die with her daughters. Instead, she woke up a day and half later. Strangely, she turned back on her camera. You can hear the radio still playing in the background, but the living room is filled with natural light.

“I tried to overdose, but it didn’t work,” she confesses, crying. “Those poor girls, they were my life.” At this point, Campione finally stopped filming herself and called the police. Later, in an on-camera interrogation at the station, she pretended she did not know how her children had died. Obviously, the video confession she had made was what landed her in jail for two counts of first-degree murder after her trial nearly four years later.

It’s nearly impossible for most people to understand how a parent could deliberately murder their own child—a brutal act legally defined as filicide, infanticide, or neonaticide (depending on the age of the child). When these rare cases do occur, they are often shrouded in a morbid, public curiosity that does not dissipate with a verdict.

Many theories have been developed about maternal filicide, but “no consistent approach exists for defining the population of offenders.” Criminal psychologist Philip J. Resnick, one of the study’s authors, has been studying filicide since the 1960s; he literally wrote the book on the phenomenon.

There are many serious reasons that might cause a mother to kill her child, including childhood abuse, postpartum psychosis, and other mental illnesses. However, the public rarely shows sympathy for a woman who commits filicide, no matter how damaged her psyche. Perhaps this has to do with the sensational, dehumanizing nicknames like “Tot Mom” or “Microwave Mom” often given jokingly to the mothers by mainstream media. And our harsh judgments often affect proceedings in the courtroom.

Most cases of neonaticide fall into the unwanted child category, while spouse revenge, like in the case of Elaine Campione, is far less common.  In the police interview with Elaine Campione, the distressed mother nods that she understands that she has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. When the officer says “for your two children,” her face winces and the bags under her eyes swell with her tears.

“This is really tough for you,” the officer says. “I’m a parent too. There’s parts I can understand and parts I can’t.” After 15 minutes of onerous conversation, the officer gently asks, “At any point during that, did you push her head under the water?” Campoine denies this, insisting that she has been taking the girls to swimming lessons, teaching them not to be afraid of water.

“But at some point, you took this medication, right?” the officer continues. “You said you wanted to end your life. You wanted to end it all.”

“I wouldn’t kill my babies,” she cries. “My babies are my life. Maybe I don’t want to live, but these are my babies… my parents could have took them.” An equally sad alternative to what could have been.

What we know about  Zenobia Seas.

She attempted suicide at the birth of her first born daughter.

She often complained about her alcoholic baby father, Immanuel Ouseb.

She was one of the brightest students at her school,

She had a well-paying job at Husab Mine

She grew jealous of her baby father’s girlfriend having a baby.

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When passion turns into a monster


He treated our pig’s stomach ulcers, arthritis, and congestive heart failure. He saved our hen’s life. And when our beloved border collie, Sally, lay dying in our bedroom, he came to our home, and while I held her and sobbed into the bedspread, he eased her out of her illness.

It’s hard to think of many people in our lives more important, more integral, or more venerated than our veterinarians. To those of us who love animals, veterinary medicine is one of the world’s noblest professions.

So it was with shock and dismay that Namibia learnt that one of its most loved vets, Dr Shepherd Sajeni had suffered a high rate of depression leading to suicide.

He seemed to have his life well-cut out. A newly renovated double-storey house in Cimbabesia, beautiful twin daughters, a new job at Unam, a loving wife and he had just registered his own vet-clinic, having ordered million-dollar equipment from South Africa.

“In fact we drove together to Cape Town to pick up my horse, Tropical Heat. He was a caring guy and came with me to the farm. The Tuesday that he committed suicide we had plans to return to the farm the next Saturday to collect semen from my stallion and sperm-bank it. The only thing he spoke ill of was the mounting workload at Unam where he had started in February this year,” said businessman and neighbour Ranga Haikali.

Dr left barely any clues to what was eating him. “We used to go to farms in Omaheke region where he would attend to sick animals and I would be busy fixing farm gates, or anything that needs welding. He really helped me get business from the farming community.

The weekend before he died we did not do much as he was busy with one horse at a farm, so we agreed to go out to the farms, the following weekend, which unfortunately became his burial weekend.

I do not believe that he committed suicide. I cannot buy that story, everything was fine. I suspect foul play,” said welder Tino Samapundo.

Samapundo’s disbelief is shared by everyone who associated with the veterinary.

Not until Lazarus Sajeni, the late doctor’s brother opens up. “He called me up on Saturday and told me he was at Ranga’s farm but wanted me to go to our mum’s grave. I did as instructed and sent him a message on Whats’ App once I was at the graveyard.

He then told me to pray for him and our family but I should try to look for answers as to why some of us are cursed. He actually said, ‘why are some of us never forgiven?’

This was the second time he was giving me mixed messages in as many weeks, so I told my wife that I would visit my brother that following Wednesday, the same day I was informed of his passing on.  I am a very spiritual person and I can certainly guarantee that whatever happened to my brother, he was not himself,” said Lazarus. That Tuesday morning Dr Sajeni had arrived home and taken a nap on the couch.

When he woke up, he asked his visiting sister to accompany him to Unam to pick up something.

We learnt that on the way to Unam, Dr Sajeni’s driving was way out of order prompting the sister to ask if he was still receiving counselling from the pastor who had once come home. At Unam, the doctor administered a cocktail of euthanasia (drugs used to put down dogs), while in conversation with his sister who assumed the syringes and the meds were for his after-hours assignments.

“He was drinking something as they drove home and upon arriving at the gap, he was now drowsy and that is when he opened up to our sister that it was part of his suicide concoction.

A struggle ensued in the vehicle outside the gate, as my sister tried to stop him, the noise prompted his wife to come out rushing as my sister was screaming. When his wife got there he even offered her some of it.

She is the one who called her parents, family friends and the ambulance.  I still do not think he was himself through this whole process,” said Lazarus. Us Namibia is reliably informed five days before his suicide, Dr Sajeni had approached a pharmacist colleague for anti-depressants. But who would suspect a doctor who had worked 12 years at the biggest veterinary clinic in Namibia?

“Yet, that is the turning point to all this.  Anti-depressants are not given over the counter. They are prescribed by specialist doctors, and they are only given to patients at a certain stage of depression because if not done properly a patient can go into a box where the only way out is suicide,” said Dr. Joab Mudzanapabwe, a Windhoek based-psychologist.

A sneak preview into the Dr’s phone shows everything was on-point.  He rarely deleted his phone messages ever since he received the phone as a gift from Lazarus who sent it from Zimbabwe after family members protested that he was not visible on social networks because of his job.

“He had to learn to connect to Whats App very recent. All he knew was his animals,” says Lazarus. The only red flag was a message to a lawyer consulting on how much he would charge if hired to represent Dr Sajeni against Unam, whom he wanted out (he had resigned but had his resignation rejected by the Dean).

What was missed was his WhatsApp profile picture where a young, probably 14-year-old, Shepherd Sajeni was holding a book, looking up to his (late) mom and (late) auntie in the picture, with a profile statement ‘Things take time’.

“Only now, I am putting one and one together, the profile picture and the cemetery prayer. Perhaps it meant, ‘things take time before we meet again with our mom and aunt.’ We will never know,” thus Lazarus.

Dr Mudzanapambwe says when it comes to suicide, veterinarian, dentists and psychologists have the highest suicide rate in medicine. He says, “It becomes unexplainable when you consider the fact that depression is hereditary. It can run in the family.

Hence you can have someone attempt suicide more than once, or have a family with more than two people who have committed suicide.” He says, “It becomes unexplainable when you consider the fact that depression is hereditary. It can run in the family.

Hence you can have someone attempt suicide more than once, or have a family with more than two people who have committed suicide.”Dr Sajeni is said to be the third in his family to commit suicide. At 37, may his soul rest in peace.

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Kaupu: All about the Pohambas


“I am an entrepreneur; I am constantly learning. If I read about the water crisis, I go research how desert countries are solving their water problems, then I take notes from there and bring it to my country.”

obviously, the words millionaire, daughter and controversial have formed such a tasty cocktail and induced sudden memory loss among those writing her father’s legacy in history. It is just a little over 15km from Kaupu’s homestead that Africa’s first woman billionaire, according to Forbes, calls Angola home. Isabel Dos Santos, a shrewd businesswoman whose success has long been linked to her being the daughter of Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos.

Yet at Okanghudi along the Namibia/Angola borderlines, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba wakes up early morning to rake his yard.  By sunrise Pohamba is already complaining about his backache and sits around the homestead overlooking his mahangu field, his favourite biltong in hand before being saturated in his readings, quietly.

About 800km away, Pohamba’s daughter, Kaupu is making headlines in the capital Windhoek. Her business enterprise KATA investments is questioned, its success and challenges are often linked to her father.

She is purported as clinching multi-million deals and a larger than life character. “When you are in the stage of identifying and growing into your true-self, the last thing that one needs is outside pressure of who you should be and how to go about it.

Constantly being identified as someone’s daughter makes you question if this is really who you will ever amount to.  When the end of his term loomed closer, I found I could finally breathe and relax within my soul.  The harsh critics and insinuations made by the media eventually became like background noise.  And it must be said that it is disheartening to see that public shaming has become such a popular sport in Namibia through print and social media,” she begins.

Inside her 2-bedroomed flat is a small 32-inch television with no DSTV, a bible anchoring photos of her loved one, a defy microwave and an aging Westpoint fridge. You would mistake it as a student’s room.

We can see the large bed from her kitchen table. The other room has been turned into an office—KATA recently abandoned its offices in the CBD—and here everything looks standard. Balanced to say the least. Far from the millions she is purported to possess.

But could that be the cover-up?

“When I was a waitress my father was President and no one said a thing. When I got a job at FNB Namibia, the first days some of the colleagues thought I was faking it when I went out to buy the popular porsie chips. I have always been that girl in the corner,” she says.

The irony is that this businesswoman who was dropped at Academia High School in a Toyota Corrolla every day when her dad was President and when on to represent the country’s national netball team while in High School, began her climb up the career ladder waitressing at Martha Namundjembo-Tilahun’s restaurant, then did her IT internship at FNB Namibia as a database administrator. Yet talking about Kaupumhote and her success usually sparks the now slightly-hackneyed “advantaged” debate.

“I am an entrepreneur; I am constantly learning. If I read about the water crisis, I go research how desert countries are solving their water problems, then I take notes from there and bring it to my country,” she says. An IT Degree holder from NUST, Kaupu had ignored an acceptance letter from a Singapore University.


“We had to close the office and work from our homes. It was becoming insecure for us especially after a break-in. People would come with all sorts of proposals wanting to be ‘linked’ or want our Joint Venture involvement.

Some would ask for jobs and when we say we don’t have; it would be an issue. I remember after a very wrong story was published in the papers, one man sat in the office for hours, wanting to see me, for a job. I still want to build my own life, yet many think we are well connected and associated with the powerful, No. Let me be. I am more content working from home than having an office because I am better off without the pressure of proving or pleasing other people.”


She describes her mother, the former First Lady Penehupufo Pohamba as a white canvass and all-time hero. I learnt that one has to be true to themselves no matter whatever element is surrounding them. My mom did not lose herself in all that. She went into State House a nurse and mum and came out the same.”

She describes her as the neck that turns the head, especially when trouble is brewing within the family, because everyone runs to her first before Tate finds out.

Then there was this lady whose name she never got to find out during her graduation.

“When her daughter was called upfront, the meme screamed in adulation, ululating and dancing screaming, ‘Okapana kange’, (fruits from my kapana business). And true, you could see that she was a meme Kapana. That struck me. She has been my point of motivation ever since and I wish to meet her one day.”


“After matriculating with top marks at Windhoek High School, my sister then saw a scholarship advert in the newspaper and went for it. She only brought it to Tate’s attention when she needed to buy the ticket because she wanted the money.

Dad cautioned her and advised that she looks for another country to study to avoid a political backlash due to strong Namibia-China relations. She stood her ground and told Tate that as long as she is a Namibian citizen and has the right grades, she deserves everything entitled to all Namibians. Tate left it like that until the newspapers ran a story that the President’s daughter has received a scholarship to study in China.

It hurt my sister, she packed her bags to return home mainly because she felt she had let down Tate but we stood with her. By that time all her pass-marks were above 80% and no one in China knew she was the President’s daughter. I am glad the family stood together when she became an innocent 18-year old media victim just because she was the President’s daughter. She is now about to pursue her

Masters’ in Europe.”

Never a mama’s baby, it was only until earlier this year when her international flight was cancelled in Johannesburg and she had to look for accommodation with friends, that she made that IMPORTANT call to the  former First Family.

They had decided to taste the Pretoria night at NewsCafe when all hell broke loose.

There was gunfire at a nearby bar and she together with her friends sought refuge in a toilet. There was so much commotion outside as revelers sought cover and police cordoned off the area assuming the shooter was still in the same building.

“I was trembling. My fear was being caught in a cross-fire. It was a little towards 2am and I somehow felt I was not going to make it because of the tension and mayhem we could here from outside. The only person I could call were my parents. I woke them up at 2am just to tell them that I loved them. It was that LAST call one makes,” she recalls the trauma.


To describe the Pohambas one has to start from the family WhatsApp group. Of course the former President is not in it, but all her children are in it.

The group is like any normal family, though a little more than the Kardashians, as the Pohambas fight, laugh, exude mood swings and make up with love, and Kaupu is always the instigator of it all.

She says; “I do stay in touch with my family and friends via WatsApp.  With a total of eight siblings, one is always guaranteed a concoction of encouragement and advice, laughs and tears, jokes and sarcasm, beautiful nieces and nephews, and ultimately LOVE.

Yes, you get moments when we absolutely do not like one another, but the love is always consistent and we can count on each-other no-matter what. We have also successfully helped mom become more tech-savvy as she can now reply to our chats and use her laptop, whereas dad is still to get the jist of it.  Technology can be a scary thing!”


Kaupu has been dating for two years now. Photos of him are all over her flat, and indicates a girl in love. They met in Windhoek at the Oil and Gas conference. “The next day he claimed he had missed his flight….” The rest was history.


This month is President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s 81st birthday.  During his reign Pohamba banned congratulatory spending towards his birthday arguing that the funds should be used elsewhere.

Adds Kaupu, “That’s him right there. He has a way of showing affection.  He is selfless, absolutely but the biggest teddy bear in the family. He says you do not celebrate your own birthday. I only got one birthday party when I was young, then my 21st which I had to fight for and my graduation party. Those are the three parties I remember, and it is like that with everyone in the family.” At the end of it all, it’s just a normal family, all in Kaupu’s life.

9things about Kaupu

About to embark on her Master’s Degree at an African University

Had no idea about pre-paid electricity after leaving State House that she called a friend to say she was being robbed when her power went off.

Favourite place: Soussvlei- There is nothing but when you make something out of that nothing and get beauty its becomes gratifying, she says. “I also love the Seychelles. Being a Vambo girl from the North.”

Kaupu has given her father an orchard tree as a present and sits beneath his TV in his room. “He sees it every day when he wakes up,” she says.

She loves music. I know for a fact that I cannot dance as well as I think I can, but music really puts me in a trance of not caring… just feeling.  Despite my intense shyness, I tend to enjoy the art of being creative, be it through home décor, singing or doing impersonations of different accents.

She has natural hair, thanks to her interests of mixing oils and butters to make her own natural moisturisers.

A tomboy, she loves adventure and real genuine conversation with others. “The thing about guys is that they talk about anything and everything under the sun, they taught me to be my own road-side assistant by changing tyres and brake pads, or to let-loose and jump off cliffs.  Whereas my female friends have taught me to balance my rough edge with integrity, compassion, and the ability to bring out the Kleenex tissues and cry tears of joy, sadness, and disbelief, all while trying to stand firmly in our positions as mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and business women.”

She still drives her 2006 Camry, a birthday gift from her mother. “The respect I have for this vehicle knowing what I have put her through is astonishing. She definitely defines what it means to be me; Enduring, Trustworthy, big hearted, and accommodating.”

Mojo: “Having been a passionate sports woman, you learn that it’s not about winning, but about beating the score you set the previous day.  Losing is beautiful, in that you accept that someone did it better than you and you respect them for that, but you don’t give up.  This is much like being a business woman or man.

One does not start business or anything in that matter from a wish to be wealthy, I believe it starts from a need to solve a problem and/or influence a change for the better which stems from an in-born passion to do what you love”.

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