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Laundromat owner blames Eskom power cuts as business shuts down

Owner of 3N laundromat, UnaNolwazi Mbotheni. Picture: Supplied

Owner of 3N laundromat, UnaNolwazi Mbotheni. Picture: Supplied

Published May 24, 2022


Johannesburg - Extensive blackouts by Eskom have forced yet another business to shut its doors.

Una Mbotheni has decided to shut down her KwaThema-based 3N laundromat, which employed two people, as the challenges became presented by a loss of power have increasingly made the business difficult to run.

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She said power outages and load shedding made it difficult to meet deadlines, which increase customer dissatisfaction.

Mbotheni said: “The turnaround time was an issue, I couldn’t meet the deadlines. I have a 24-hour policy with each customer and that couldn’t be met.”

Mbotheni added: “With Covid-19, I understood the impact, everyone was home and doing their own laundry but, with load shedding, the schedules changed by day and that had a huge impact on the business.”

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The small business owner decided that she would be closing her shop in April, when she could no longer ignore or work around how badly impacted her business’s day-to-day tasks were becoming due to load shedding.

The laundromat has tried to explore other options to get work done, such as hand washing, but electricity was integral for the business.

“We had resorted to doing laundry by hand, but that didn’t help with the drying part. It took longer and it was near impossible during rainy days,” said Mbotheni.

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The South African economy has taken a huge knock in the past few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the circumstances were especially challenging for small business owners, who were unable to operate during hard lockdown.

Despite some businesses having to shut their doors, the easing of regulations did offer others a lifeline. However, the recent power cuts by Eskom have served some businesses with yet another blow, that presents its own operational challenges.

This small business, which employed two people, has since had to let them go.

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“I had to let go of two staff members, who were both breadwinners in their families. We were no longer making money because we lost customers and, as a result, could not pay for the equipment we were using that was being rented out, and we also lost sponsors and could no longer keep the business going,” said Mbotheni.

As difficult as the decision to close shop is for Mbotheni, she stilI wishes to get back on her feet in future and try again.

“I’m looking forward to having a sponsor or an investor and I would love to continue, as this has been my passion for a long time and to help my community in terms of employment.

“The experience has taught me not to rely on this electricity system. I really need to invest in solar,” said Mbotheni.

Mbotheni added: “I will need to start all over again because we had to return all the equipment we were renting out, and now I’m left with only two washing machines. The premises we were renting out have been given to another business, but I have my eyes on another one.”

Mbotheni remains hopeful as she continues to work towards giving her business a second chance, by means of renewable energy sources.

Meanwhile, Eskom also announced on Sunday that, due to continued shortage of generation capacity, they would continue to implement Stage 2 load shedding throughout the week from 5pm to 10pm.


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