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Small business owners in Soweto say load shedding is destroying their lives

Small business owners in Soweto say load shedding is crippling their businesses and they have no hope of government intervening to assist them. Some say they sometimes spend six to eight hours with no power, resulting in them throwing stock away.

According to a restaurant owner in Mofolo, Kwanele Mtolo, saying the current state of affairs was affecting their lives is an understatement. It is destroying their lives.

“I own two eateries in Mofolo, close to each other. If there’s no electricity in one then the other does not have electricity as well,” Mtolo said. “I have to constantly move stock from one shop to another, depending on which fridge is colder,” she said.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa: ‘Solving electricity and load shedding crisis is vital for SA’

“We had just come from Covid and we were still trying to recover. It is like disaster after disaster. This brings a lot of emotions: anger, confusion, stress because this is my only source of income.”

Being without electricity for six to eight hours had forced her to lay off four of her five employees. Mtolo said she was also considering closing one of the eateries because of the current load shedding levels.

“We serve breakfast, fast food during the day and, later, we serve home-cooked meals, so there’s a lot of stock involved. Two weeks ago, I bought a lot of stock because of the Kota Festival. Little did I know that we were going to face this load shedding.

“Two days ago, we had to dispose of all the meat, potatoes, polony and other things. These things need to be replaced. Where will the money come from?”

The 3 Amigos Butchery in Benoni using a generator to keep their business running during loadshedding, 20 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
The 3 Amigos Butchery in Benoni using a generator to keep their business running during loadshedding, 20 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen

Mtolo said government had failed small businesses. “I have lost hope in the government. I don’t see them rescuing us. It is on us to save ourselves.”

A supervisor at Chilli Pepper in Diepkloof, Goodman Nhlapo, said they had been forced to buy a gas bottle which cost them R1 300. It only lasted three days.

“We spend roughly R4 200 on gas a week. All these expenses we incurred because of load shedding end up affecting the staff,” he said.

The equipment is electrical and using gas had caused production to be slow.

“We are a very popular place. We get people coming from Orange Farm to have a meal, only to find out that there’s load shedding. This causes us to lose a lot of customers.”

Bara Taxi Rank salon owner Mulalo Tshitimbi said she had turned away several customers because of load shedding. Despite the electricity crisis, business owners there were still expected to pay full rent.

“Customers have been coming but they end up going back because we do not have electricity. “This hurts because I am losing a lot of money,” Tshitimbi said. “[Load shedding] is killing our businesses. We just came out of Covid, where we did not work at all – and now this.”



from The Citizen https://www.citizen.co.za/news/small-business-owners-in-soweto-say-load-shedding-is-destroying-their-lives/

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