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UPDATE: Spaza shops and informal traders get the green light to operate during lockdown

Posted in News by Tereasa Dias on 3 April, 2020 at 3:23 p.m.

MPUMALANGA - Informal traders and spaza shops in the province will now be able to trade during lockdown, as they will be granted temporary permits by Mbombela Municipality. According to DA councillor Tersia Marshall, she has received a directive from the Officer of the Speaker of the Mbombela Municipality informing all ward councillors to urgently compile a database of spaza shops and informal traders within their jurisdictions. 

This, after it was reported that shops in the townships were battling to keep up with the supply of bread and necessary items in their communities, due to a huge local increase in demand for these items.

Business Insider previously reported the Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, had confirmed that only licensed spaza shops would be allowed to trade during the lockdown.

Marshall said allowing informal traders and spaza shops to trade would drastically decrease the number of people having to travel to towns to get food items. “This will definitely help reduce the spread of the virus.”

One shop owner, who asked to stay anonymous for fear of reprisal, on Monday said she had seen people in the township queuing for hundreds of metres just to get basic necessities. “Because the Pakistani shops are all closed, people have to wait in line outside a supermarket or a convenience store to buy essentials.”

She added that she understood why these residents deemed it necessary to leave their homes. “It is easy for those who have comfortable homes to point fingers. Most people here live in one-roomed shacks and cannot afford to stock up on groceries. They do not have fridges or cupboard space. They therefore have to buy goods on a daily basis just to survive.”

Stella Mine, near Kaapsehoop, is one such community that does not have access to transport to get to shops to buy food. The only shops in Louisville, another mining community near Barberton, are owned by Pakistani nationals. These shops all had to close their doors due to the lockdown.

Catherine Restiau, founding director of the local non-governmental organisation (NGO) Dignity, who assists sex workers and drug addicts with rehabilitation, stated that the destitute in Anderson Street in Mbombela - most of whom are struggling with addiction -  have been given shelter and three meals per day at the Nelspruit Community Forum

“Nurses are visiting the Forum daily to administer methadone, a medicine used for detox. After 10 days of detox they can go to Swartfontein Rehabilitation Centre if they want.” She added that the girls who normally worked as sex workers on the streets of Mbombela, were now renting flats in Mataffin and KaNyamazane for the duration of the lockdown.  “Both Dignity and the Department of Social Development are ready to support them whenever they are in need.” 

Written by: Tereasa Dias
Subeditor: Lynette Brink
Editor: Anchen Coetzee


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