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Under Pressure: Retail worker’s R6K salary not enough

A Pick n Pay retail store in Durbanville powered by a diesel generator kept electricity essentials on in order to carry on with business during load shedding.

Workers in the retail and wholesale sector face difficult times as the cost of living increases in South Africa. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 29, 2022


Rustenburg – Harriet Nang*, a retail shop worker in Rustenburg, said her monthly salary was not enough to cover all her expenses, after paying everything she is left with nothing.

Nang, 31, shares a three-room shack dwelling in Lethabong outside Rustenburg with her two children.

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She pays transport for her children to go to local schools and she pays for her own transport to go to work.

Ordinary South Africans share their budgets: How does yours compare?

Name: Harriet Nang

Job: Retail worker

Age: 31

Live in (Area): Lethabong, Rustenburg

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Supports: 3

Income: R6 000


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Loans: None

Groceries: R1 800

Transport: R2 440

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Bond/Rent: N/A

Rates, Taxes, Levies

Electricity: R800

Insurance: None

Medical Aid:

Clothing: R400

Entertainment: None

Eating out: None

Childcare: None

School fees: Not disclosed

Data/Fibre: Not disclosed

Telephone/Cell: Not disclosed

She was not able to further her studies after matric, armed with her matric certificate, she was able to find a job in the retail sector.

“It is like I am not working. I am earning R6 000 in a month, R1 440 is for transport. I have to buy food at a cost of R1 800, prepaid electricity of R800. I am left with R1 960, from it I have to pay transport for schoolchildren which cost me R1 000 a month with the remaining R960 I buy medication for my child at R560 and pay my accounts (clothing) with the remaining R400.

“I cannot pay all of them the required minimum every month, I pay this one this month, then next month the other one which means I am always a month behind in my payments.”

Nang said her problems were exacerbated by the hard lockdown in 2020 when her hours were reduced at work.

“I am in this situation because of the lockdown, I was never prepared for it, before the lockdown I was in a position to survive, now it is so difficult. I am afraid there will be a time where I will not afford to go to work … if transport costs keep on increasing it will be pointless to go to work to earn R6 000 and use R5 000 on transport.”

Nang said she could not at this stage afford to have a funeral policy of her own, she is depending on the mercy of her relatives to have her and children covered.

“If I was paying it directly, I could have lapsed already. I do not have medical cover and depend on public health.”

Nang said she wanted to find a better paying job, but was unable to do so due to lack of job opportunities.

“The retail sector is the only one which offer jobs but the money is not good enough,” she said.

*Not her real name.


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