Durban businessman struggling to make ends meet during lockdown, makes R80 'on a good day'

21 May 2020 - 08:29 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Durban-based businessman Mcebo Nzuza is struggling to make ends meet during the lockdown.
Durban-based businessman Mcebo Nzuza is struggling to make ends meet during the lockdown.
Image: Supplied/ Mcebo Nzuza

He went from having several wedding shoots set up to now making R80 on a good day. And he needs all of that to support his family. This is the story of Mcebo Nzuza from Molweni, KwaZulu-Natal and the devastating impact the lockdown in SA has had on him.

With nearly two months of limited economic activity Nzuza fears the businesses he worked hard to build in the past seven years may not survive.

His internet cafe expanded from making copies and printouts from his bedroom in 2013, before pursuing photography two years later.

Loss of income

Nzuza was booked to shoot seven weddings before the lockdown, but they were either cancelled or postponed indefinitely. He is using his savings to support his family, with the help of his father who is a pensioner.

“I would have made about R80,000 from these events, but due to the lockdown I won’t be making this kind of money any time soon. My clients had paid for photography and video packages and the cheapest of these costs R8,000.” 

A short lifeline

Under level 4 of the lockdown, he is permitted to reopen his internet cafe for limited services like making copies and printing.

Making a single copy and print costs between R3 and R8 but there isn’t much demand for these services as students, his biggest target market, are not attending classes. On a good day, he makes R80.

“Unfortunately I can’t allow people to sit in and use the computers for research as I need to observe social distancing. Financially this is taking a toll on me as I can no longer save, budget or plan ahead. All that matters right now is just surviving each day.”

Uncertainty about the future 

Nzuza says easing of the lockdown regulations will do little to get him back to work as he works with social gatherings. He believes he will only be able to fully operate under level 1 of the lockdown. He is anxious that he may not recover from the financial loss.

“When I reopen, I will need to recover the money I’ve lost, but increasing prices is not a solution as some people will complain that I'm too expensive, especially as some have lost jobs. I need to find the right balance.”