So if we are facebook friends you may have heard about our truck being impounded by the government. Here is the whole story.
We bought our truck in South Africa in 2010 before coming up to Namibia, we bought in SA because cars are much cheaper down there. But we before buying it we looked into what it would take to have a foreign car in Namibia. According to the officials we spoke to we had two choices, we could import the car to Nam, but it would cost 16.5% of the value of the car, or we could just pay a $30 fee every three months to keep it on the road. We opted for the second choice as we were not sure about importing it.
So for the last two years we have been getting a road permit every three months, or sometimes a little bit more if we forgot to renew it.
When the CCCB team was visiting we took them out to Hero’s acre to look out at the city and to pray for the city of Windhoek. It was on Easter weekend. To get to hero’s acre one has to leave the city, and there are police stops at all the entrances to Windhoek.
David, the two professors, Reese, and I were in the front and the five students were on the back. As we were coming back into the city we were pulled off by the police. Apparently they were pulling all cars with foreign license plates off to check their papers. They only do this on Easter and Christmas weekend.
David confidently pulled out the permit and he was told, “um, no, get out and come with me.” While he went off to explain what was going on we stayed in the car. We have been pulled over at the police stop several times before and it had never been a big deal. After a while Mr. Williams looked back at me and said “They are not buying what he is trying to sell.” After a few more minutes David came to the window and said that they were going to impound the car, and we needed to find taxi’s to get home. This would have been impossible since it was a holiday weekend, and we were way out of the city. Plus if we were lucky enough to find a taxi the driver may be drunk, as it is a holiday weekend. There was no way we were going to put Reese in a taxi. At this point he woke up from a nap and he started crying really loudly. So I got out of the car and stood next to the police officer. They felt sorry for us, and said that they would follow us back to the house and then take he car from there.
They said that we were supposed to pay the import tax, even if we were not importing the car. And then if we ever left Namibia we could request to get it back. We also needed to pay a fine for not paying the tax sooner. I guess the different offices of government do not have the same rules. The rules we were following were set out by the roads authority, and the import tax rule is set by the ministry of finance. So we made the mistake of only asking one office what the rules are…
They followed us to our house and then David drove the truck to the impound lot. When they got to the lot they had impounded so many cars that they had run out of the forms that they needed so David had to drive with them to Okahandja to get the forms and then back to the impound lot. During this long drive David was able to strike up a good conversation with the officers and they decided to give him a lift back home, so no one needed a taxi! David also now has made some contacts with people in the government, and we have an agreement that they will come to our house for coffee some time in the future
In the following week we had to do a lot of running around and scrambling to get everything done that needed to be done and to get the money together. We needed to get three quotes on the value, the government then used that to calculate the tax. Then we had to hire a clearing agent to file the paper work. And we had to get the cash together. It ended up costing us $1400 to get our Hasselhof out of jail. This money came out of our furlough fund, we hope to make up some of that when we are back home.
It was really stressful and all that, but in the end we were able to make friends with the police officers, and we learned a lesson about trusting in God.