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Homeless booksellers go 'online' to survive lockdown

Published Mar 29, 2020


DURBAN - A Durban book publisher has saved the income of homeless people in Durban who earn a living selling second-hand books.

The Booksellers of Mzansi is a project collaboration by the Denis Hurley Center and Micromega Publications which enables homeless people around Durban to sell second hand books in order to make a living.

While most people were off panic buying or making last minute preparations for the 21 day National lockdown, Micromega Publications transferred the booksellers of Mzansi project online, so that sellers could still earn a living during the National lockdown.

“The booksellers, like everyone else, have to go into lockdown and it is a real tragedy for them because many of them have been doing so well and have gained so much momentum.

They have been selling at malls, shopping centres and casinos and it is sad that they had to lose that momentum,” said Micromega Publications, Anivesh Singh.

With the rules of the National lockdown in full force, it would be impossible for the booksellers to continue earning an income through this project - which is when Singh decided to put their books for sale online using the company’s e-commerce website.

“We thought, let's try something different to keep the project alive because the more time they spend out of business, the more vulnerable they become. So by putting the books online and continuing to sell those books to people, we can help them keep the momentum that they have built up,” said Singh.

Just outside of Durban, in an area called Botha's Hill, is where Richard Nzima, Pat Khumalo and David Sithole are living for the remainder of the lockdown.

When asked about the continuation of the project in an online space, Richard said, “I am not too familiar with ‘online stuff’ but Mr Singh has been helping us with it. We know in this situation that the country is in, people need books to read and because we cannot go out and sell our books anymore we put the books online and people can now buy them from there.”

“We have tried to contact our customers and let them know the books are online and some of them really appreciate it,” added Richard.

In his first ten minutes of online business, Pat Khumalo sold R235 worth of books, which is more than he makes in an hour on a normal day.

“This new place to buy books will really help us stay in business. People can now go there and buy books even though we cannot go out anymore,” added Sithole.

If you would like to support the project, visit