Load-shedding is a ‘killer’, say small business owners

Caterer Siyabonga Mkhize says load-shedding is putting significant strain on his business.
Image: Provided

Business owners in Johannesburg have described the latest ongoing bout of load-shedding by Eskom as a “killer”.

Siyabonga Mkhize, a chef at catering company Infinity 97, had to cater for a birthday celebration on Saturday but was hampered by load-shedding, so he had to make alternative arrangements.

“Load-shedding is a business killer because we end up losing valuable clients. In this case we had to instruct the client to hire a generator. If that failed, we would have to use a natural fire,” he told TimesLIVE.

His business partner Itumeleng Mbele said that while food can be cooked using gas stoves or fire, food storage is a bigger problem. If food is not refrigerated, it has a far shorter shelf life and can cause hygiene and health problems.

Rosana Mlambo, a seamstress in downtown Johannesburg, said she had lost nearly R3,500 in revenue since Thursday last week due to load-shedding.

“It’s a busy time for me because a lot of people are getting married. This weekend I had to sew clothing for three different weddings,” she said.

Mlambo said she could only finish two sets of clothing on time. “I worked day and night, but it was still not enough. I had to travel and ask another sewer to help. This means paying for petrol, their electricity and cancelling other orders.”

Sizakele Mthembu, a hairdresser in Freedom Park, Soweto, said she had lost R600 between Friday and Sunday. “Weekends are the busiest. I had to turn away four customers and for each person I would get about R150,” she said.

“It hurts that I can’t prevent load-shedding, regardless of whether or not I pay for electricity and rent – and I can’t even get a refund for any loss.”

Eskom has warned that load-shedding is likely to continue for the rest of the week.

“We continue to ask customers to reduce demand, as a concerted collective effort can help to avoid or lessen the level of load-shedding,” said the ailing power utility.

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