Six months into the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa, the fate of most small businesses remain uncertain. The few left are struggling to survive. Skilled laborers are without jobs and the country faces an unemployment crisis. On the following are snapshots of some parts of the economy slowly crawling back to life.
BUSINESS WAS GOING WELL FOR JOHNNY ZULU, the owner of a 20-year-old salon named K&S Beauty in Johannesburg, before Covid-19. But ever since the state-imposed lockdown that unfolded in various stages in the country, he says he has lost more than half of his customers.
“I am not making money like I used to. Most customers say they fear for their lives and the virus,” rues Zulu. “I had no income, I had to make means to pay my rental. I survived through house calls.”
To minimize the risk of clients getting infected, Zulu has now employed a new staff member so customers don’t have to wait in queues outside, and he has also started working on appointments. In this image, Zulu is wearing PPE as he works on a client, and as he also awaits another customer who is late for an appointment.
A fully-loaded taxi leaves the crowded Winnie Mandela taxi rank at Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg on a busy weekday. All passengers are to mandatorily wear masks and sanitize before boarding the vehicles.
Sifiso Vilakazi, a taxi owner and former professional South African soccer player, says during Level 5 of the lockdown in South Africa, most drivers lost their daily income and their families went hungry. “Now, since people are going back to work, we have more commuters and things are slowly getting back to normal,” says a hopeful Vilakazi.
With lockdown restrictions gradually easing, and restaurants and bars reopening in South Africa, people are rediscovering the simple joys and conviviality of eating out. Here, youngsters treat themselves to their favorite local delicacy, called inyama yenhloko (head meat), with pap and salsa, at the popular Kwa Skero restaurant in Soweto, Johannesburg’s urban sprawl.
Tiisetso Kumbula, a regular patron at the eatery, says she hadn’t enjoyed her favorite meal since March. “When the lockdown started, I had to learn how to cook from TV shows and when the President reopened restaurants, the first thing I wanted was to come here,” enthuses Kumbula.
A mobile street vendor pushes his trolley filled with fresh fruits and vegetables on a sunny Friday morning. He can now conduct his business freely, without being asked for a special permit as was required during lockdown Levels 5, 4 and 3, by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) patrolling the streets in some parts.
With South Africa’s tourism sector reopening, strict Covid-19 regulations have been implemented in most facilities such as the Kloofendal Nature Reserve in the West Rand of Johannesburg, where mask-wearing, temperature-scans and hand-sanitizing are mandatory. Only smaller groups are allowed for hiking activities.
Adventurer Sabelo Zitha, who loves hiking, is happy to be back at the park, and says: “When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced we could hike again, I was very pleased to hear that. The recent hike we did was quite adventurous because I was doing what I love: being outdoors and engaging with various people, after a long stay at home. It was priceless. Now, I am even happier we can travel and hike in different provinces.’
After a fairly long and dry spell in South Africa, television shows have been given the green light to be shot on-location. In this image, an elderly citizen passes the site of a TV shoot in progress with Morgan Gould, a South African international footballer, in Rockville Soweto.
Senior citizens wait in long queues at a local municipal building in Soweto to collect their monthly social grants. Social distancing is mostly not adhered to at these collection depots. Some of the grantees arrive early to stand in line, braving the cold morning air and Covid-19.