South Africa: COVID-19 - Spaza Shop Owners Under Pressure to Stay Open After Hours

A resident of Mamelodi in South Africa during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Spaza shop owners say they are under pressure from residents in Tshikota, Louis Trichardt, to stay open beyond the trading hours stipulated by the national lockdown to disrupt the spread of Covid-19.

Spaza shops may only trade from 7am to 5pm. Normally, they are open from 6am to 9pm.

"I have no problem in following government regulations, opening and closing times, but most of the time when I close residents are queueing to buy in my shop," said Sharon Muleya.

"When I deny them the chance to buy they look cross and I feel one day they may break into the shop," she said.

Muleya only allows a maximum of three customers at a time in her shop. A man at the door gives customers hand sanitiser as they enter.

Carta Do Armolo said it is one of the worst trading periods since he started running his spaza shop five years ago, but despite this he said: "Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic and there is no way I could operate after hours."

David Assfae, also a spaza shop owner, said: "Most of them [customers] are unemployed. They depend on casual jobs and now they cannot go anywhere, resulting in me also realising very low sales."

When Groundup walked around Tshikota on Thursday, children were playing in the streets. Some residents were walking in groups. But the streets clear the minute the police appear.

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