Local businesses feel the pinch as lockdown remains in place

2020-04-16 06:01
Owner of Chara Leather Carlington Chara sitting in front of the industrial machine flanked by his brothers Wellington Chara (left) and Kudakwaishe Bangira (right). PHOTO: Unathi Obose

Owner of Chara Leather Carlington Chara sitting in front of the industrial machine flanked by his brothers Wellington Chara (left) and Kudakwaishe Bangira (right). PHOTO: Unathi Obose

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While most big and small businesses were forced to shut down their operations as a result of the national lockdown, a Khayelitsha business owner says he opted to move his operations into his house.

However, it has not been all smooth sailing as the majority of people remain behind closed doors in line with the lockdown regulations.

Chara Leather, which was previously known as Clever Leather, specialises in manufacturing leather handbags, belts and wallets. The company is based at the Look Out Hill.

Owner Carlington Chara says life is difficult. Since the lockdown kicked in at midnight, on Thursday 26 March, he says they are not making any income.

“Here we don’t have enough space to work. Some of the things that we use such as glue are very dangerous to the children. And our neighbours are complaining that we are making noise as we are staying with other tenants here,” said Chara.

He says they hope to produce enough stock in order to hit the ground running once the ban has been lifted. “We are manufacturing bags just to be there hoping that after the lockdown people will buy them even though it’s not guaranteed. Even the number of bags that we are making is way less than what we normally make,” he stated.

The Zimbabwean father of three children says his main concern is paying his rent. “I’m working with my two younger brothers. Both are renting their houses. I don’t know how I am going to pay them,” he said.

Chara’s brother Wellington says the extension of the lockdown announced by Ramaphosa last week is making things difficult for them too. “I thought there will be a relief. I was shocked when the president announced the extension. We don’t have money. We are just making the bags to be there in case one of our customers make an order,” he says, adding that they feel the pain as they are living hand to mouth.

Wellington says besides supplying small businesses in Cape Town they also have customers in Durban, Eastern Cape, Knysna and George.

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