Lockdown | SMME owners and employees fear Level 5 will be reintroduced

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Afri-Tech affected by Level 5 lockdown
Afri-Tech affected by Level 5 lockdown
Ntwaagae Seleka, News24

Fears that the government will introduce more stringent regulations or reintroduce the Level 5 lockdown are mounting, according to some small business owners and employees.  

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There is also a concern that even though restrictions have been relaxed under Level 4 of the national lockdown, there may be job cuts because business has not resumed as expected.

Jaco Naudé who owns a small aluminium factory in Krugersdorp, is among many affected business owners because he has had to temporarily close shop.

Naudé permanently employs four workers.

It was tough and we are grateful for the introduction of Level 4. We had pinned our hopes on government to ease the regulations. However, due to some people who don't adhere to regulations, we might find ourselves back to Level 5 and closing our shops, this time for a long time," said Naudé.

He added that his employees were also affected because they were at home for three weeks without an income.

Naudé said he was on the verge of registering his employees to benefit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) before the Level 4 lockdown was introduced last week.

It feels nice to be back at work. We are coping although we don't have as many clients as before. Currently, we are completing orders we received before lockdown.  Currently, with the number of orders I have, I will be able to pay salaries," he said.

READ | First batch of govt's coronavirus relief funding to roll out to small businesses next week

Richard Arends who owns Afri-Tech that supplies screen and filter cloths to mining and paper companies and food factories, said the lockdown affected his business severely.

The company employs 15 people.

Arends said during lockdown his company operated, but on a small scale.

"We have done little work during lockdown and are now doing extra during Level 4. During Level 5 we have made 15% monthly turnoff. Currently, the order intake is not too bad because mines have started operating.

"These are tough times for every business owner. One of our biggest challenges is that 30% of our products are meant to go to other countries," he said.

Arends said his other big challenge has been the ban on inter-provincial movement because his sales people can't visit clients in various parts of the country.

A worker at an SMME in Krugersdorp, Ratanang Moatlhodi, who was at home during the Level 5 lockdown, said he had been affected financially.

"I didn't have a salary to feed my family. Life was difficult [but] it was joyous when it was announced that we can return to our workplaces.

"I am happy to be back at work and earn a salary, unlike the past three weeks. My wish is that the lockdown should end quickly. However, at the rate people are behaving, I don't think it will end soon and we might be taken back to Level 5 without jobs, temporary or permanent," said Moatlhodi.

Contraventions

Dezzy Hyman said he observed that many people did not adhere to the lockdown regulations.

"We as people, don't respect regulations. Some of us roam streets, children don't stay indoors and many are walking around. The spread of this virus will not end as long as we don't behave as required by government.

"We must follow the law and behave well to ensure that the lockdown ends quickly. I think if the lockdown continues further, many of us are going to lose our jobs because of lack of profit by many companies," Hyman said.

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