News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
24 Mar 2020
5:30 pm

‘A loss can be covered – a death can’t’ – CT businesses brace for the lockdown

News24 Wire

While many were aware of the lockdown, they did not quite have details on how exactly their movement would be restricted.

Adderley Street flower sellers, Cape Town. Picture: Pinterest

Ilhaam Benjamin has been selling flowers on Cape Town’s Adderley Street for over 40 years.

The famous market has remained operational through riots and protests over the decades, but, on Friday, it, too, will shut down as the lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus takes effect.

“The lockdown came as a shock,” Benjamin told News24 on Tuesday.

“I don’t know how I’m going to feed my eight children, but I guess we will survive. We always survive.

“A loss can be covered – a death can’t be covered. We are going to have to throw away all these flowers that must still be paid for, but I’d rather lose money than see someone die.”

South Africans expressed mixed feelings about the lockdown, but most people News24 spoke to on the streets of Cape Town said while they were expecting difficult days ahead, the situation warranted drastic measures.

Cellphone and accessories trader Zahid Raja said the next three weeks would be tough, but worth it.

“It’s bad, but if we look inside to our humanity then we must just do this lockdown.”

Barbershop owner Kelvin Samat, however, said while he recognised the need to put public safety first, he was not at all happy with the lack of information on where small businesses could access relief to prevent them from having to close shop.

“If we don’t work, there’s no pay. I don’t even know how we are going to pay the rent. I don’t know where to go for help.”

Prince D Jackson and Gabby Ram, a photographer and make-up artist, said work had almost completely stopped for them as international film projects had been put on hold due to the coronavirus. They managed to pay their rent on Tuesday, but the weeks ahead for freelancers looked bleak.

“Next month, if we don’t pay our rent, the landlord is not going to want to hear about the coronavirus. We don’t know where our meals are going to come from. We are living on faith,” said Jackson.

“We are entering a phase in the world where human beings have no say or voice because government will tell us when to stand, where to sit, and that’s dangerous. I’m all for the lockdown, but I’m against a lock and block approach, especially where people’s livelihoods are concerned.”

While many were aware of the lockdown, they did not quite have details on how exactly their movement would be restricted.

Government was set to gazette the full list of who will exempted from the lockdown on Wednesday.

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