Covid-19 led to big losses for those in the entertainment industry

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DJ Shimza (Photo: Gallo Images)
DJ Shimza (Photo: Gallo Images)


The financial pinch caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 has been felt around the globe – and the entertainment industry has not been spared.

While some artists managed to create alternative streams of income – like DJ Shimza’s Lockdown House Party – others were not as fortunate.

Major gigs and events such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Vodacom Durban July horseracing event, the Royalty Soapie Awards and the SA Music Awards could not take place in their traditional formats, forcing some organisers to resort to virtual shows.


Event organiser and record label boss DJ Tira, whose real name is Mthokozi Khathi, told City Press that he’d had to cancel his live shows this year, including his 21 Years of DJ Tira concert, which had been scheduled to take place in his hometown of Durban.

“We managed to put together a production of our 15 Years Afrotainment for TV. We’ve also had to put up visuals for Fact Durban Rocks, which will be our last event of the year – on December 31 – and will also be virtual,” he said.

Fact Durban Rocks, a major crowd-puller, is an annual event at Moses Mabhida Stadium, which has capacity for 85 000 attendees.

This year’s event will feature artists including Sjava, Sun-EL Musician, Focalistic, Master KG, Nomcebo Zikode, DJ Bongz, Songz, Zakwe & Duncan, Zakes Bantwini, Dladla Mshunqisi, Babes Wodumo and Mampintsha.

Tira said that the cancellation of big events due to the nationwide lockdown regulations meant no gig bookings for most artists. This forced many of them to drastically reduce their spending to survive.

“Artists have been affected a lot. It’s bad. Some of them are downgrading in terms of lifestyle and cars because they can’t afford instalments at the end of the month,” Tira said.

He added that as a way to survive the coming year, he was working on creating a bigger visual presence for himself.


Rapper Rabs Vhafuwi, whose real name is Rabelani Madula, is one artist feeling the impact of Covid-19 in his pocket – especially since President Cyril Ramaphosa recently reimposed strict lockdown regulations, including the prohibition of large gatherings.

Rabs Vhafuwi

Vhafuwi said six of his gigs were cancelled this week after the president’s announcement.

“One of the gigs that was cancelled was supposed to have taken place on December 16. This isn’t helping us at all. We’d understand if we were getting relief funding like other industries, but no one’s looking out for us in the entertainment space. Just as we thought we were trying to recover, we got blocked again,” he said.

The muso said it was extremely challenging trying to survive without any form of income.

“It’s been the most difficult year ever. Imagine staying home with no way of earning money. The only positive thing was that I was able to put my energy into producing more music, which is why I recently released a double album.

“I was also fortunate to have found a movie scoring gig, so I spent most of the lockdown doing that,” he said.

Vhafuwi said he had not received any relief funding from government.

“I’m not coping at all. I didn’t receive a single relief fund payout. I filled out all the applications and submitted the proposals, but nothing happened. I didn’t even receive feedback. The relief fund kept saying it was paying – week in and week out – until I gave up,” he said.

The Musina-bred star said he would be busy with personal projects for the rest of the festive season, including his soccer tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Musina today.


Musician Daniela Cassetti said she was making the most out of lockdown by focusing on her next album.

“It was better for me than for most people because I’ve been in the industry for years. But I have been focusing on my other interests in the tourism sector.

Daniela Cassetti

“Now that that industry has been affected more than any other, it’s given me time to return to what I really want to do, which is create music,” she said.

Cassetti said the recently announced lockdown regulation adjustments, including an earlier curfew, had affected her in the sense that partygoers could no longer attend events.

She also had to change the launch of her new single, which had been scheduled for Friday night, to a virtual event for safety reasons.


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