Load shedding shuts down single mom's online teaching business after students quit over disruptions

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Lungiswa Xhamela was forced to shut down her online teaching business due to constant load shedding.
Lungiswa Xhamela was forced to shut down her online teaching business due to constant load shedding.
  • A South African online English teacher lost 80% of her international students in a week due to ongoing load shedding.
  • Lungiswa Xhamela has blamed load shedding for destroying her livelihood.
  • Foreign students quit her classes and left bad reviews on her profile after her lessons were interrupted by power cuts.     

A Free State single mother, who earns a living by teaching English online to international students, is shutting her business down after 80% of her clients quit because their lessons were constantly disrupted by load shedding.

The 33-year-old Lungiswa Xhamela from Virginia has blamed Eskom for destroying her livelihood. 

Xhamela said her students grew tired of her unreliable service as a result of the electricity crisis in South Africa.

Speaking to News24, she said disappointed students from Latin America, Turkey, Ukraine, Belgium, and France quit her classes and left bad reviews and ratings on her profile because ongoing power cuts interrupted her sessions.

READ | Building rented by Eskom in Gqeberha has electricity cut due to non-payment by landlord

The bad reviews chased away any potential students who were keen on booking a class, she said.  

She said:

Having electricity is very important in my line of work because I need to use a stable Wi-Fi router, ring light, and laptop. All those need power, and backup power like generators and UPSes, are very pricey.

Since last week, Eskom has implemented crippling power cuts, bringing many businesses to their knees.

President Cyril Ramaphosa cut his overseas trip short and returned to the country immediately after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral last Monday, due to the energy crisis gripping the country.  

After teaching for a year, Xhamela said that because of Eskom's incompetence it was time for her to search for a new job.

Lungiswa Xhamela
Lungiswa Xhamela
Supplied Supplied

She said: "I usually teach from 08:00 to 15:00. My classes depend on bookings. Students book their convenient time slots and I have no control over this. When there’s no electricity, I am absent in the classroom and they get frustrated and cancel their lessons with me. They then choose another teacher." 

Xhamela, who holds a human resource management diploma, worked at a teaching company for three years before she decided to work independently at home.

READ | Family loses everything in house fire allegedly sparked by load shedding

"I've lost 80% of my clients, which also means I no longer have an income, because of load shedding. Losing my income means that I will not be able to take care of my family and daughter. I’m a single parent," she said. 

Xhamela is a breadwinner at home, with her income taking care of her unemployed mother and her eight-year-old daughter. 

Her mother worked for an NGO training mathematics teachers, but was retrenched because of Covid-19 in April 2021.

Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha declined to respond.

Xhamela said:

Eskom really killed my online teaching [business]. European students don't care about our 'excuses' and I don't have a backup power supply. I guess it's time to start applying for employment.

South Africa’s energy crisis began around 2008, when demand for electricity exceeded the supply, causing power generators to trip.

To save the grid, the power utility started implementing rolling blackouts, dubbed "load shedding".

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