The Excelsior News interviewed a few local street vendors and car guards to get their opinion about Covid-19 and find out what influence it has had on their income:
- Benzie Mdluli (55) has been selling fresh and delicious fruit at a stall located in Retief Street for approximately 12 years now. She depends on her profit to assist in supporting her four children and 12 grandchildren. During the time of the lockdown when hawking activities were prohibited, she was unable to contribute towards her family and according to her, she received no assistance from the government.
- Cynthia Dlamini (24) is a positive young woman who has been operating her fruit and sweet stall in Church Street for the last year and a half. She has one child who depends on her. She described the period in which she was not allowed to generate an income as some of the worst few months of her life.
- Sifiso Twala is one of the friendly car guards at Mall@ Mfula, he is 27 years old and has been keeping a watchful eye over shoppers’ vehicles for the past two and a half years. Although some shops in the mall remained open, he was unable to go to work and provide for his seven-year-old son. He went on to say that even though he was promised financial assistance from the government, he is yet to receive anything.
- Gift Nkosi (27), who has also been a car guard at Mall@ Mfula for the past year, says that he is glad to be back at work and that he is now able to at least buy bread to eat every night.
This is just a few examples of people who find themselves in dire economic straits at the moment, struggling to put food on the table or provide warm clothes and blankets in the midst of winter. Most informal business owners or workers have no savings plan, they depend on their daily income for that day’s meals and when they receive no support from the community or government, their families go to bed hungry.
We often converse about the impact that the nationwide lockdown has had on businesses such as restaurants, hair and beauty salons and the tourist industry but, it is hardly ever mentioned how this situation affected people like car guards or hawker stall owners.
The next time you go grocery shopping, consider adding some fruit, a sandwich or even bottled water to your cart and give it to the car guard. Do not be rude to them when they run to your car and ask if they can watch it for you, they are just as eager to make some money as you are when you go into your secure job every day. Greet them politely and if you do not have any money with you, explain it to them. They will most probably accept this and with a smile, tell you “maybe next time.”
Many of the hawker stalls sell fresh, delicious fruit at a reasonable price. Feel free to support the young mom sitting on the cold floor with her child or the old woman who sells products to ensure that her grandchildren receive a good education so that they end up with a better future.
Your purchase will be very much appreciated! It is important for community members to look after one another, to work together to ensure that every child has something to eat every day and be able to go to school. Open your heart and assist wherever possible, not only for them but also for some peace in your own heart.