Covid impact: Ofentse Legwale had to move back home in the North West, after he lost his job as an HR practitioner. Picture: Supplied
Covid impact: Ofentse Legwale had to move back home in the North West, after he lost his job as an HR practitioner. Picture: Supplied

Covid-19 jobs bloodbath forces HR practitioner to pack up and move back home after losing job

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Sep 17, 2020

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Johannesburg – This week, Ofentse Legwale, 28, packed up his belongings from his Midrand apartment, hauled them into the back of a trailer and moved back home to Brits after he lost his job three months ago.

Legwale, a human resources practitioner, had been renting an apartment in Midrand, but could no longer afford to pay his rent.

He shared his story on Twitter in a tweet and it quickly went viral, with over 2 000 people retweeting his plight.

South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown has decimated jobs and the economy, Legwale was one of those left unemployed as a result.

Speaking to IOL on Thursday, the Tshwane University of Technology HR graduate said the situation was tough and he had little choice but to move back home to his rural village of Bethanie, on the outskirts of Brits in the North West province.

While he searches for his big break again, Legwale is keeping himself busy and putting food on the table by selling pork packs in his rural village.

“My dad and I have been buying pork and skop (pig heads) to sell, so my dad has been helping me to slice it and I have been out there selling and interacting with the people.

“I remain positive that I will find work again, but in the meantime I have to provide for my family because my parents are pensioners, they rely on me financially.

“So at least when I can make even R600 per week, I am able to buy bread and cover my own expenses, so that is why I am out there selling outside taverns, at petrol stations. This is helping me and my family in the meantime,” said Legwale.

Last November, the young professional had been retrenched at his previous employer, AVI, but managed to gain an employment contract with Estee Lauder between February and June.

He had hoped to secure a permanent position, but with stringent regulations, the business could no longer recruit make-up artists at the rate the company hoped. Much of his job function was tied to recruiting make-up artists for the brand and assigning them to retail stores.

When the demand plummeted due to lockdown, the company had to let many make-up artists go, and eventually, Legwale.

“When Covid-19 came into the picture, Estee Lauder was no longer profitable in the sense that Edgars was no longer doing well because our make-up artists have to touch people, so that was difficult and led to fewer recruitment opportunities and a lot of the make up artists, we also had to let them go,” he said.

He said he was also let go at the end of his contract in June as trading conditions worsened.

Covid impact: Ofentse Legwale had to move back home in the North West, after he lost his job as an HR practitioner. Picture: Supplied

Legwale said he had quickly been shortlisted for three job interviews, but nothing came of them and he decided to move back home while still renting his Midrand apartment, which he shared with a friend for R3 500 each.

“I feel a bit lighter now because I can see I am not alone in this. I have seen how men don’t like to talk about these things when going through a tough time – we get depressed and suicidal.

“But fortunately for me, I have a strong support structure from my friends, my family and my fiance, they have really helped me a lot giving me belief and urging me to be strong, because without them, I don’t think I would have the confidence to speak about this,” he said.

He said after he went viral on social media on Wednesday, he had been referred to over 30 positions and had applied for most – and would continue doing so.

“This was a huge blow for me, but I am very positive that things will change,” he said.

To assist, email Ofentse Legwale on: [email protected]

IOL

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