Consumers feel the pinch as fuel, food and transport prices go up

Consumers have been forced to dig deeper into pockets to keep up with cost of living.

Consumers have been forced to dig deeper into pockets to keep up with cost of living.

Published Jul 10, 2022


Johannesburg - South Africans have been hit hard by the rise in the prices of everyday living necessities.

The recent petrol increase has seen taxi fares rising and people having to stretch their salaries, which have stayed constant, to make ends meet.

While consumers try to keep their heads above water, the latest household affordability index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group shows that food prices continued to soar at the mid-year point in South Africa.

The group said household food basket cost R4 688.81 in June 2022. Month on month, the average cost of the food basket increased by R78.92 from R4 609.89 in May. Year on year, the basket was up by R560.57 from R4 128.33 in June 2021.

This has hit hard people such as Zandile Kheswa, a teacher at a primary school in Sebokeng in southern Gauteng. The 36-year-old said the situation in the country had forced her to live from hand to mouth.

“The cost of living is too high, and I live from hand to mouth. I am forced to skip one meal a day. Things are no longer the same. I used to have three meals daily, but now I only have two a day. This is because life has become difficult. I used to buy enough food for the month with R3 000, and that’s no longer happening. Now I have to focus more on the basics," she said.

“I am even forced to use the car on the weekends because petrol is also expensive. I now use a taxi to get to work, which is also expensive. Taxi fare has increased from R20 to R25, which is too expensive. I am no longer able to save money like I used to do,” Kheswa added.

Truck driver Samuel Motlalepula, a resident of Freedom Park, said he had decided to cut out a few luxuries such as beer and takeaways food to be able to pay bills and buy the basics.

The situation was dire for unemployed Precious Tsoene, a resident in Palm Ridge in Katlehong. The 33-year-old, who depends on her brother to survive, said things were no longer the same.

“Everything is so expensive, and this has a negative impact on our lives. There are three of us at home, and we all depend on our older brother to help us. Now he is feeling the pressure. He has to make sacrifices because he doesn’t earn that much. He has to support his family and us as well,” she said.

Tsoene said the situation also made it hard to look for a job, adding that she had to choose between food and hustling.

“It is tough now. When my brother gives us money, we have to choose if we buy enough food or use some for our hustle. He gives us roughly R1 200 every month, and the price of food has gone up, which makes the budget tight. This is a sad situation because we have to live with choices now,” said Tsoene.

Katiso Malakwane, who works at Sibanye-Stillwater in Rustenburg, said he was considering using the bus to go to work. He said this was because he could no longer afford petrol like he used to.

“This is a decision I never intended to make, but here it is. This petrol increase is too much. Everything is expensive, and this is sad,” he said.

Petrol prices have sky rocketed, resulting in an increase in taxi fares and food.

The 37-year-old father of one added that he was also struggling to look after his 2-year-old son. He also used a gas stove for cooking because electricity was expensive.

“I even had to buy a generator to keep the lights on during load shedding. But it is also expensive because I have to fill it with more than R500 to last me for at least eight hours. This is a tough situation. Imagine – we buy electricity, and petrol for cars and generators as well. We are drowning, and there seems to be no solution from the government.”

The national fuel hike affects motorists and commuters who rely on taxis to get to work. Gugu Sibanyoni, a casual chef at a restaurant in Pretoria West, said the rise in taxi fares had now forced her to adjust her finances and cut down on a few things. Sibanyoni’s monthly transport costs of R850 went up to R1 000 last Friday when taxi fares increased.

“I’m hugely affected by the increase because I work where there is a lack of transport sometimes, so I’m forced to take a taxi to town (the Pretoria CBD) where I can get a taxi to Soshanguve. That means I have to spend more money on transport every month than I had budgeted for,” Sibanyoni said.

Another commuter, Prudence Maake, moved to Johannesburg when she got a job in the city. Maake used to spend R440 on a return trip from the City of Gold to her home town of Rustenburg. She said the taxi fare increase would make it difficult for her to go home as frequently as she had done before.