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Load shedding is killing our family business, says Soshanguve shopkeeper

Load shedding is killing our family business, says Soshanguve shopkeeper

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Pretoria – “I don’t know how to say this without sounding like I’m glorifying apartheid, but honestly, white people knew how to run this country.

“0ur leaders are failing us,” says Vusi Ngwenya, a tuck shop owner from Soshanguve who is growing frustrated with the load shedding power cuts.

Ngwenya’s family owns multiple tuck-shops around Soshanguve which have been operating since the early 1980s. The more recent ones were opened as the township kept growing.

As the oldest amongst the siblings, Ngwenya took over the running of the business when his parents retired, retreating to spending more time at home rather than running around keeping the business going.

“This is the only income I know. It has sustained our family for decades and continues to support the new families we have created as we get older. But with the way things are going, this load shedding will obliterate what this family has worked so hard to build.”

The 52-year-old said it pained him to think about the stock loss he made in one of the stores during the past two weeks due to load shedding and power outages.

“See, in this area the municipality doesn’t stick to the schedule. Last week the area didn't have power for almost two days. They take the power and don’t bring it back, and when they do, it's usually for a few hours,” Ngwenya said.

Ngwenya estimates his losses due to load shedding and the recent blackouts in the area at well over R3 000 for his tuckshop business. He says the losses include meat which was spoilt, ice cream, yoghurt, milky ice-pops and mageu.

He said his freezer wasn’t as strong as it used to be. He blames load shedding for the malfunctioning of the freezer, saying it started giving him issues around June when the country was plunged into Stage 6 load shedding. To get his freezer working again, he had to pay over R1 000.

“I sell wors, livers, gizzard and chicken pieces. Can you believe all of the meat went to waste because of this load shedding? Remember my freezer isn’t that strong anymore, so with this on and off, its performance is 10 times worse.

“And by the looks of things, it will stop working again, and who has to repair it? Me obviously,” he said.

When presented with the idea of a generator, Ngwenya shook his head in disapproval.

“Petrol on its own is expensive, so even if I buy a generator, profit made from the store will be spent on this over-priced petrol. So it means I can't win; my business will run at a loss either way,” he said with a grimace on his face.

Ngwenya said load shedding went beyond just killing his family business. It was also taking away employment from the staff he has hired to assist in the tuck shop.

“I usually hire these unemployed men to assist in carrying heavy loads and also pack cold drinks in the fridge. I had two of them assisting here, but unfortunately I had to tell them to stop because I’m not making any profit and won't be able to pay them. So you see where the element of crime comes in.

“My family built this business during the apartheid era. It was running very well. Money made from that business raised me and my siblings. Our father also managed to buy three more houses around Soshanguve and opened tuck shops. The current government is killing everything we have worked for as a family,” Ngwenya said.

South Africa continues to face unprecedented load shedding levels, with Stage 5 load shedding for much of this week being activated by Eskom.

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