WATCH | 'It has never been like this' - small business owners in Cape Town slam load shedding 'mess'

2019-12-10 20:24
(Dudu Zitha, Beeld)

(Dudu Zitha, Beeld)

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As South Africans continue to grapple with load shedding - currently at stage 4 - it would appear many small business owners are taking strain because of the latest round of "ridiculous" power outages.

For the first time, Eskom announced stage 6 load shedding on Monday night, which had the country seeing red over the power crisis.

Even President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday admitted public anger over the "devastating" power cuts was understandable.

News24 asked a number of people, including street vendors and small business owners, in Cape Town's CBD how they felt about the issue.

For some, it was a matter of safety.

'Animals' prey on people

Ebrahim Davids, a 57-year-old street vendor in Cape Town who is from Delft, said: "I saw a woman this morning running to the taxi because there is no light, it's ridiculous, man. Load shedding is dangerous because these 'animals' prey on people and rob those who use public transportation and have to wake up early in the morning."

Another street vendor, Fatima, 32, said: "Load shedding is a bad thing; the reason why is because it is affecting our areas. First of all, it's bad for the area where I come from because … the gangsterism gets worse … shootings and things like robbing people, because nobody can see who it is."

She also raised concerns about the toll the blackouts have on their appliances.

"Second of all, our equipment in the house breaks, so automatically our flat screens and [microwaves] they can explode and who pays at the end of the day. It comes from us."

William Davids, a 69-year-old small business owner from Ottery, said the latest round of load shedding seemed unprecedented.

"It has never been like this," he added, saying the government "are pumping money into a bucket that's got holes in it".

"I think it's bad. I think they should put people there that know what they are doing at Eskom," added Davids.

"I mean it's Christmas, people's freezers are packed, they bought something like a couple of thousands-rand worth of meat and now the insurance companies say, 'that's not our baby', so who is responsible?"

And even favourite past times are affected.

'I sat in the dark for four hours'

"What is really sad is that I can't watch my soccer," he laughed, sporting a Liverpool FC jersey. "I sat in the dark last night for four hours."

Shahidi, a 45-year-old street vendor from Tanzania, has experienced load shedding in his home country and said it was a necessary evil in order to protect the grid.

"They do this so that there is not a total blackout in the future," he said. "In Tanzania, we also have load shedding."

Shahidi added residents should watch the news to stay informed.

READ | How is load shedding affecting you? Share your story with us

There was, however, at least one happy electronics vendor who has been selling power banks at the same pace that Eskom moved from stage 4 to 6 on Monday.

Rafiek is a busy man at the Golden Acre shopping centre in Cape Town's CBD, going as far as almost declining to be interviewed because, as he puts it: "I need to sell this power bank."

He had sold "about six on Monday" alone. His trick, he revealed, was not inflating his prices given Eskom's troubles, but rather selling them at a cheaper price.

A MyCiTi employee named Bandile said he had observed with keen interest as people talked about the effects of load shedding as they entered his bus.

The Delft resident, whose shift ends at 22:00, said he predicted that on Tuesday, as was the case the night before, "I'll get home and there will be load shedding".

"I arrived last night after my shift, settled in and in a matter of minutes, there was no electricity … it's a crisis. It's a mess."

Read more on:    cape town  |  load shedding  |  crime

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