Sowetan street vendors happy to be back in businesses but has too much damage already been done to their livelihoods?

2020-04-07 13:34
Florida Shivambo trading after shop owners and street seller were allowed to trade. (Photo: Phakamani Mvelashe)

Florida Shivambo trading after shop owners and street seller were allowed to trade. (Photo: Phakamani Mvelashe)

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Florida Shivambo is a street vendor who is thrilled at the fact that she is now allowed to sell her fruits and vegetables on the street but is it a little too late?

Speaking to Move! the 42-year-old mother from Soweto says the past week has been like hell for her because she could not provide for her family.

WATCH | Spaza shops grateful regulations were relaxed but say 'we are still struggling'

“It is such a relief to have to sell again. But my clients have already bought more than they have to consume from supermarkets, which means I can’t sell them my product to them. Some people are still buying but I don’t think it’s going to be same as before,” she explains.

The Mozambique-born woman says that the past few days have been very difficult for her and family.

“The money I make every day is not enough and this past week has been bad because I make money daily and we spend that money on something to eat. When I have R20 my kids have to go get something to eat and when I come back later I have to provide because whatever they’ve eaten is gone. I have no one to assist me,” she says.

Florida says she came to the realisation that things are going to be tough when she saw her cupboard getting empty while she couldn’t sell.

Spaza shop owner, Nomthandazo Mazibuko is in the same predicament. She tells us she’s hasn’t receiving an income ever since this lockdown started because she works for a spaza shop which has had to close.

“When the shop is not making money I can’t get paid. I don’t even have UIF claim it’s just a mess for me and my kids at home. I really don’t know what to do. Were it not for the kindness of people, we would be dead right now,” she says.

Read more: Lockdown: Spaza shops and informal traders are free to trade

She goes on to add that she’s been afraid of even going to the streets because the police are out there looking for people who are gallivanting but won’t listen to her when she explains that she needs to feed her children.

“I really have no idea what to do right now and for the next two weeks it’s going to be hard.”

On Thursday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced informal traders could again start earning a living during the lockdown.

"We have learned a few lessons from the past week of the shutdown. We have realised that spaza shops were supposed to be open, but for some reasons some were asked to close. We are clarifying that all spaza shops should be opened. We have included informal food traders. Informal food traders must get a permit from their ward councillors or their municipality. They are free to trade," she said.

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