It’s unfathomable really. To see the country getting back to the normal way of life – or as politicians refer to as the “new normal” – after such a depressing period.
People being able to go out for a meal at shisa nyama joints and more importantly, still observing health protocols.
A few months ago, it did not seem possible as the deadly Covid-19 pandemic continued to restrict people in the shackles of the lockdown. But South Africans are known to be resilient and resourceful. So, it came as no surprise that they found ways to get up after being knocked down.
After months of locked doors, food establishments in Soweto found themselves staring down the barrel of a gun. However, despite the current economic climate, some have found a way to lift themselves off the ground.
Sibusiso Madlala from Pimville in Soweto, who operates the popular Esibayeni franchise, told Vutivi News that he had to dig deep to stay afloat.
His establishment, which has outlets across the sprawling township, had to face either sinking or swimming.
“I had 23 employees working in different outlets in Soweto, and all of them had to stay at home. Eleven of them are back, and two of our branches are now fully operational. We are hoping to bring the remaining employees who are still at home back to work,” he said.
“Many of them support families and they have had to take a salary knock, which puts a strain on their households.”
Like many SMMEs, Madlala bemoaned the way the government did not reach out to help this sector. He told Vutivi News that he knocked on many doors, but none opened despite him following the correct procedures.
“They always find a reason to decline your application for assistance. No help comes from the government or from the banks. I know of no business in my township that benefited from the relief funds, for example, because in the current government you need connections for everything.”
Madlala said he had no choice but to downscale.
This forced some of his staff to stay at home for many months during the lockdown, but with the country now on level one, things are starting to look up.
“We know that it will take time to recover, as many businesses have closed down. But with God’s grace we survived and we will keep pushing,” he said.
Madlala started the Esibayeni food outlet nine years ago. It sells township favourites such as cow’s head, livers and tripe. It was a gap he spotted in the food market in his neighbourhood and took full advantage of.
“Being born and raised in Soweto, I saw that everyone in the township is selling kotas. I decided that I had to come up with something different, something that will make my business stand out…”
He hopes to have all his staff back at work soon and a business that will flourish once again.