African Press Association
South African young lady, Miss Lumka Dhlamini (left), a holder of Jewellery Design and Manufacturing degree is seen here selling jerseys and jackets outside Pan Africa Mall in Alexandra. Photo by Savious Kwinika, CAJ News

Graduates turn to humble jobs to survive lockdown

ALEXANDRA – SOME young people, including university graduates, have been forced into menial jobs to make ends meet during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown that has seen millions in South Africa either lose jobs or sent on unpaid leave.

They have embraced innovative ways to ensure survival under the harsh economic conditions and at times make more money than they were earning while employed.

Among these is university graduate, Lumka Dhlamini (26), who worked at a local design jewelry company in Kew, north of Johannesburg, before the virus outbreak.

She is a holder of Jewellery Design and Manufacturing degree.

Dhlamini now sells winter clothes in the streets outside Pan African Mall in Alexandra.

“COVID-19 is a new reality that we must learn to live with,” she said in an interview with CAJ News Africa.

“For us to survive under such difficult circumstances, we must also look into opportunities that come with the challenges,” Dhlamini added.

She sees the outbreak of the disease as a blessing in disguise.

“Naturally, I’m an entrepreneur. My dream came true when the COVID-19 induced lockdown came into effect towards the end of March. That is when I pondered about strategies for survival,” Dhlamini said.

She said on a good day, she could generate an average of R2 000 while at other times when business is bad she can make as little as R150 daily.

Nonetheless, her profit is higher than the government’s proposed minimum wage of R3 500.

Malawian national, Samson Kalichero (44), was a general worker at a media production company in Emmarentia but when COVID-19 came into effect, he started selling protective masks in Alexandra township.

“I’m currently unemployed hence selling of masks,” he said.

Kalichero bemoaned the decline in business during recent weeks of the lockdown.

“When the lockdown was on Level 4, I used to make lots of money because all vendors were selling at R20 each, but now, masks are going for R10,” said Kalichero.

Kalichero, a father of two, said the economic problems had forced him to treble his work rate to ensure his child in South Africa and another in Malawi were catered for.

Zambian-born entrepreneur, Harrison Chisanga, also said he was making more money than he was before the lockdown.

“When I saw galore business opportunities here in Mzansi, I told myself I will never seek formal employment,” said Chisanga, who came to South Africa in 2008 from Kitwe.

He added, “Admittedly, the first three weeks of COVID-19 lockdown, life was very tough for everyone.”

Chisanga, who operates from Alexandra Pan Africa Mall, said during Level 4 of the lockdown, he was generating R500 on a good day.

“When President Cyril Ramaphosa loosened the COVID-19 lockdown to Level 3, I then started seeing positive business results, generating up to R1, 500 to R3, 000 per day,” Chisanga said.

– CAJ News