‘Boutique’ her livelihood

2015-07-15 06:00
SWEETNESS MKHAFU, who trades second-hand material such as clothes, shoes and curtains to make a living, sorts out some of her items.
Photo: Teboho Setena

SWEETNESS MKHAFU, who trades second-hand material such as clothes, shoes and curtains to make a living, sorts out some of her items. Photo: Teboho Setena

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

SELLING second-hand items on the street corners of Welkom’s township of Thabong has offered more than just survival for Sweetness Mkhafu. The single mother of eight children has also managed to raise her offspring and provide for some to study further at tertiary institutions.

The 62-year-old Mkhafu sells second-hands items such as clothes, shoes and household ware, including curtains.

The streetwise woman has been in the trade since 1989, selling these bargains that the locals refer to as a “Look Down Boutique”. The name is derived from the fact that you search for bargains among the loads of bundles displayed on the floor instead of on shelves. Prices range from R25 to R400.

Mkhafu said she ventured into selling second-hand goods after being retrenched at a supermarket in Johannesburg in 1989. “The business shut down because the owners were against workers joining trade unions. I then joined another group of women who were already in the business selling from street corners around the greater Johannesburg. I have never looked back because it was profitable,” said Mkhafu.

She takes pride in her informal business which has seen her educate her children, some even at university level. Two of Mkhafu’s children, Msobomvu and Ntyatyambo, are studying at university. Msobomvu studies teaching at the Central University of Technology, Free State, Welkom Campus, while Ntyatyambo is a third-year student in Social Science, majoring in Psychology at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape.

One of Mkhafu’s sons is the promising rugby player Khwezi who plays for the Griffons.

Mkhafu has endured not only extreme weather conditions to ensure the survival of her family, but also risked her life.

“I survived at least two horrific accidents which left me with several internal injuries.

“However, God has been with me throughout the journey and I’m grateful for that. I raised all my children and they now live their lives and are taking care of themselves,” said Mkhafu.

Mkhafu travels to Cape Town almost twice a month where she gets these bargains. She said it cost her about R1 400 for a return trip. Mkhafu also trades pottery ornaments which she purchases in Johannesburg.

Mkhafu says business has been slow the last number of years. “Business has not been as good in the past years like when the mines and other firms were operational. I now return home with loads of items, unlike before when I sold everything within a week,” said Mkhafu

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.