Namibia: Katima Woman Makes the Most of Devil’s Claw

A KATIMA Mulilo resident recently started stocking up on devil’s claw roots to dry them for medicinal and other uses.

Margaret van Rooi says inhabitants of the region, especially the elderly, are suffering ill health, and she wants to make a difference.

She is adamant that the plant’s root has medicinal properties.

In the Silozi language the plant is called malamatwa, and is found not only in Namibia, but also in other southern African countries, such as Angola, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa.

The plant’s roots and tubers are used to make medicine.

Devil’s claw, or the harpagophytum plant, has been used to treat atherosclerosis, arthritis, gout, muscle aches, back ache, tendonitis, chest pain, gastrointestinal disturbances, heartburn, fever, and migraines.

Van Rooi claims the plant can also relieve high blood pressure and stabilise blood sugar.

She sells the roots cut into smaller pieces, which are then exported to South Africa and Germany, where they are crushed and processed into a syrup.

Van Rooi, who relocated from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo last year, started her devil’s claw business to support her family, and has created job opportunities for 18 locals already.

On site she fills bags with the plant’s roots after a cleaning process, before the bags are sent off to Germany and South Africa.

“Most of the roots come from Botswana. It all started at Gobabis, Rundu, Divundu, Tsumkwe and Katima, and thus the demand is slowly rising,” she says.