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

2020-04-05 08:33

Vilakazi Street, once a hive of activity filled with tourists and Sowetans, is now a distant memory because of the 21-day lockdown.

News24 visited Soweto on Friday to gauge how the lockdown is affecting the small businesses which cater for the local community – the spaza shops.

"Since lockdown, the business is not doing very well. Before the lockdown, we had many customers because we are on the main road. We would get a lot of customers because people were going to work, and others were visiting Vilakazi Street," James Gethuw told News24 on Friday.

The government has since relaxed the regulations to allow for spaza shop workers and informal traders to be able to make a living.

READ: Lockdown: Spaza shops and informal traders are free to trade

While spaza shop owners are grateful for this initiative, they are not convinced that it will make a big difference.

"People are only buying bread and airtime now, whereas before we would be selling things like cigarettes which makes us a lot more money," said Gethuw.

"It's not bad yet, but it really could be better as we need to make a living," he added.

Another spaza shop owner, Jasea Amani, said that prior to this lockdown he would see an average of R1 500 a day coming into his business. Now he is only receiving about R600.

"Before the lockdown, people went to the shopping malls to get their food, so they are not coming here enough. They are fully stocked up," he said.

The popular Soweto restaurant, Sakhumzi, says it is going to have to start looking at alternatives to keep the business going.

"We started having cancellations three months back from tourists who normally support us during the week. The numbers are starting to go down and things are not looking good at all," Sakhumzi Maqubela told News24. 

"We have to come up with a new strategy. We are going to have to knock on businesses' doors because people eat around lunch time," he added.

Maqubela further hopes that a relief fund, similar to the relief given to farmers during drought, will also be afforded to South African entrepreneurs.

"Surely for us to not start retrenching staff, and to pay our rent, debit orders and insurance, we are going to need support from the government," he explained.

Maqubela employs 110 staff members, who are all currently at home with full compensation during the lockdown.

The lockdown is expected to continue until 16 April.

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Read more on:    soweto  |  johannesburg  |  coronavirus  |  lockdown

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