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The Profit That Comes From Gore And Grime

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It’s a business that people hardly knew existed 20 years ago. It is also not for the faint hearted. Some call it the business of death, but it is broader than that. Murders, suicides, and decompositions are just some of the scenes that Eileen de Jager and her sister, Roelien Schutte, attend to most days.

Their business, Crime Scene Clean Up, started 17 years ago, when Eileen and Roelien saw a need to start a business that would save people from the trauma of having to clean up crime scenes of their loved ones or friends.

“We discovered this idea after we saw one of our neighbors had to clean her daughter’s suicide scene. We decided we needed to do something to change this,” says Eileen.

When the sisters started out they used to travel to scenes around the country with a minibus equipped with everything, including a kitchen sink.

“The only thing we were short of was a shower,” Eileen chuckles.

Today, the business employs about 32 people and has nine branches across South Africa. The Blood Sisters, as they are popularly known, started the business with only practical experience. In a challenging and demanding field like this, the sisters felt a need to further their skills by studying. Roelien and Eileen’s husband, Francois, who is the CEO of Crime Scene Clean Up, went for waste management courses, while Eileen studied environmental health.

Studying further was important to grow the business.

“Having the knowledge and professional skills to do the job enabled us to understand this work better,” says Francois.

Crime Scene Clean Up Eileen and Francois de Jager

Eileen and Francois de Jager (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

They are the last to arrive at a crime scene. Eileen says they do their job so thoroughly it can be difficult for law enforcement officials to extract evidence afterwards.

Crime scenes vary in nature – some are more suited to a woman and others a man.

“Women are usually labeled as cleaners in a household, hence I never found it difficult to adapt, but sometimes there’s an emotional attachment that we sometimes leave behind,” says Eileen.

READ MORE: Nailed By Imposters

Before becoming entrepreneurs, Francois, Eileen and Roelien had nine-to-five jobs. Francois was a motor mechanic, while Eileen was a foreign exchange trader. Despite the blood and gore, Eileen says crime scene cleaning can be easier.

“What I am doing now is less stressful than what I used to do when I was in the corporate space,” says Eileen.

An ordinary day of work can border on the bizarre for these entrepreneurs. One day, Francois called Eileen while she was at a scene, wearing her mask and bloody gloves in the middle of a cleaning operation, to ask what she wanted to eat for supper.

“Can you imagine how ridiculous this is,” the couple say simultaneously, as they share a chuckle.

This profession is no laughing matter though. According to Eileen, cleaning a crime scene without professional help may lead to respiratory problems and post-traumatic stress.

“You must be compassionate and this field must be something that you want to do,” Eileen warns.

There is also bureaucracy to deal with. After fighting for years for their business to be recognized by the law in South Africa, the three say they still have to fight every year for their renewals.

“Like any other business in the country, there are fake ones that register for the same business and mess it up, making more problems for us with the government,” says Francois.

Eileen, Roelien and Francois aren’t just in this business to make millions, they’re also working hard to bring tranquility to a troubled period in someone’s life.

READ MORE: The High Price Of Addiction

This Woman Could Save Your Life

It’s a sunny August morning in Midrand, 30 kilometers north of Johannesburg. In a calm, yet busy, environment sits a crew responsible for despatching the emergency services that could save your life.

Nokonwaba Mgcoyi, a 35-year-old mother of two, has been working for the 10111 center – a 24-hour crime reporting call center – for more than 10 years. Today, she takes us through how the center operates.

The Gauteng regional centre, where Mgcoyi works, is South Africa’s largest. It caters for the 12 million people that live in the Gauteng province.

It’s a faceless profession, which some have seen as non-functional for decades. Though it is not listed under essential services, it is crucial for the public.

“10111 has become part of my life as I spend 80% of my time serving the public through the center,” says Mgcoyi.

Women are sometimes perceived to be vulnerable and incapable of handling pressure, but Mgcoyi seems to be calm and confident while on duty.

Mgcoyi deals with trauma on a daily basis, including domestic violence, accidents, murders, robberies and gang violence. The call center’s agents, like Mgcoyi, deal with up to 200 phone calls a weeknight and as many as 10,000 on a weekend night.

Although the public constantly complains about the effectiveness of the 10111 center, Mgcoyi says they work very hard in a challenging job.

“For us it takes up to 10 minutes to take a call and despatch a van. What happens after that is up to the police,” she says.

“10111 has two divisions, the call center that answers the calls, and the despatching department that despatches the vans according to the location of the emergency.”

READ MORE: The Criminal World Of Dog Eat Dog

A lack of resources can make a difficult job even tougher.

“A shortage of vans in police stations is one of the major problems that we face,” she says.

Hard decisions also have to be taken. Mgcoyi has to prioritize emergencies according to their importance.

“We categorize the emergencies from alpha complaints, which are known as priority number one, down to the least threatening situations. This helps in ensuring that high priority crimes are given preference.”

In South Africa, where a high crime rate is the norm, and the roads are perilously dangerous, the service that people like Mgcoyi offer is vital.

Entrepreneurs

The Foodies With A Drive For Business

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Two taxi commuters who went on to become friends and tenacious business partners selling gourmet cuisine out of a food truck.

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Billionaires

Abducted Tanzanian Billionaire Mo Dewji Returns Home

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Tanzanian billionaire entrepreneur Mohammed Dewji, who was abducted by unidentified kidnappers on October 11 in Dar es Salaam, has been released and has returned home safe.

 

In a statement released by MeTL group at 3.15AM today, the prominent businessman says: “I thank Allah that I have returned home safely, I thank all my fellow Tanzanians and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”

The Tanzanian police have also released a video in which Dewji, dressed in a t-shirt and who looks visibly shaken and worn out, thanks his supporters.

Said a source who works closely with Dewji to FORBES AFRICA: “He was released in the middle of Dar es Salaam around 3AM today, unharmed, after which he ran to the nearest security guards who dropped him off home. He does not know who his abductors were. He was only taken about 20 minutes away from the city center, so he has been in Dar es Salaam since the abduction. He has no visible bodily harm with the exception of marks from the handcuffs.”
She also revealed that the abductors wanted ransom but let him go on account of the media hype around the kidnapping.

Dewji was on his way to a gym session at a luxury hotel in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, in the early hours of October 11, when he was kidnapped by the masked gunmen.

Dewji’s family had earlier offered 1 billion Tanzanian Shillings ($436,674) to anyone who could help them find him.
Dewji, popularly known as “Mo” in Tanzania, is the CEO of MeTL active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. He is also the main sponsor of football club Simba.
Dewji was featured on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in July 2013 and was named FORBES AFRICA’s Person of The Year in 2016. The 43-year-old single-handedly turned his father’s trading business into Tanzania’s largest import-export group.

Dewji’s personal networth is $1.5 billion, according to the Africa billionaires list released by FORBES earlier this year. He is also Africa’s youngest billionaire.

Dewji’s office has said it will release a personal address by Dewji “once he is settled”.

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Entrepreneurs

No Wasted Opportunities For Swazi Entrepreneur

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In the mountainous kingdom of eSwatini, a former pre-school helper is turning trash to treasure.

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