By Selenathi Botha
Not having basic needs for part of the time has become a norm for the people of Makhanda. Load shedding and the water crisis have been happening for a while now. At first, load shedding used to come and go, just for a short period of time, but now it takes hours for the electricity to come back. Water sometimes returns only after a few days of being absent. Everyone is affected by this, but the township economy takes a huge loss, Grocott’s Mail has found.
One such affected business is Shoba Funeral Services. It has been operating for more than 10 years and is now run by Nomampondomise Shoba after being founded by her father. Shoba Funeral Services has had to resort to expensive generators to keep their power on.
”Loadshedding has us by our necks, especially when the electricity takes long hours to come back on, because we keep corpses that must stay in good shape. So it really affects the business, but luckily we have a generator for that,” Shoba says.
She adds that the generator is expensive and they have to take the little that they gain from the business to buy petrol four times a day. Shoba says the scarcity of water is a huge problem in a funeral parlour, which is based on hygiene. When they come back from fetching a deceased person, they need to wash their hands but with the scarcity of water they resort instead to using hand sanitiser, which they have to buy regularly.
Small business owner Khouual Walker, who owns Hair Mr Dee Studio in Extension Nine, said he was no longer making any profit in his business because when load shedding hits, he has to wait the entire time without working. As a result, some of his customers leave and do not return when load shedding is over.
Another Makhanda business affected by load shedding and the water crisis is the Mam’ Girlsia Vulindlu Kitchen in Extension Five, also known as ‘Mama G’s Kitchen’. Mama G has been struggling without water for a while, and it is crucial for her food preparation. She told Grocott’s Mail that she used to hire people to fetch water for her at the Fairview Spring until she decided to buy a Jojo tank with the very small profit she makes.
However, her problems continued – load shedding affected her kitchen appliances. Mama G ended up buying a gas stove so that she could continue her business, and earn something to put on the table.
Mam’Dambisa Zenani owns a laundry in Extension Seven that has been operating for years. “Loadshedding has had a huge, negative impact on my business. There are times where electricity takes long hours to come back and the machines that I use for washing people’s clothes are no longer working anymore because of this”, says Zenani. Four of her laundry machines had to be repaired many times from her very small profit margins because of the damage caused to them by loadshedding, she added.