“My income is highly dependent on the amount of tips I get. Since I am not an essential worker I have not been working for almost 20 days to date.”

The 21-day lockdown has left many South Africans without an income, resulting in the growing concern that these individuals will not afford to pay their residential rent come month end.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to a few of these individuals who had aired their concern on this matter via Twitter.

Interior design graduate from the BHC School of Design in Cape Town, Qinisile Dlamini, moved to Johannesburg at the beginning of this year in the hopes of finding a position within the design industry. However, this hasn’t worked out to plan, says Dlamini.

“I haven’t been fortunate yet, so in the meantime I was able to secure a part-time job as a sales consultant in an interior design store in Hyde Park Corner. I only work three days a week and they pay me per day so at this point I’ve lost so many working days,” she says.

Dlamini, 23, lives in Craighall where she shares an apartment with a friend. Should she not be able to come up with her half of the R7 500 per month rent, her last resort will be to speak to her landlord to try negotiate a way forward.

Similarly, final-year BCom student at the University of Johannesburg and waiter, Maynard Keynes, 22, is also left without an income during this lockdown period. Keynes says, “My income is highly dependent on the amount of tips I get. Since I am not an essential worker, I have not been working for almost 20 days to date.”

Keynes is a self-reliant student who works at a restaurant in Montecasino in order to pay for his rent, studies, and other necessities. Should he not be able to come up with the R4 500 for his monthly rent, he says he has “no option but to borrow from friends and family”.

Director of Marlon Shevelew and Associates law firm, Marlon Shevelew, told Property Professional (a South African information provider on the residential property industry) on March 26 that tenants were still expected to pay rent during the lockdown period.

“A tenant who cannot pay his rental because he has not received an income is not entitled to refuse to pay rental. Although the loss in income was ultimately caused by covid-19, the effect is not related directly enough to release the tenant from paying rental. Otherwise any person who is ever retrenched would be able to refuse to pay rental,” Shevelew said.

Attorney, notary public and conveyancer with STBB, Riette Bornman, also told Property Professional on April 2 how tenants and landlords can move forward during these trying times.

“The rental agent is encouraged to scrutinise the terms of the lease agreement and to facilitate mediation between the parties. During these trying times where performance can become difficult, both parties to lease agreements, will undoubtedly be affected. Parties are to be motivated to negotiate possible solutions such as a payment plan for April’s rent if liquidity is an issue on the tenant’s part,” Bornman said.

With the worries of having to pay rent looming over their heads, South Africans have had to think of innovative and alternative ways of making money during the lockdown.

Fashion designer Snazo Majambe, 32, from Centurion has been without an income since the online fashion studio that she is an assistant designer for closed down for lockdown.

“Currently I am making masks that can be used during the day and then washed at night,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.

Majambe calls the job of selling face masks her ‘side hustle’. She has been selling these masks for R35 to her friends and other individuals via her social networking platforms. However, since lockdown, she has not been able to deliver the masks to people and is still trying to come up with a solution to this logistical issue.

Dlamini is also looking into an alternative way to earn some money during this time. “What I do is upcycle old clothes and make them more stylish and trendy. I was able to sell a couple of pieces while I was a student so maybe it’s time I take this seriously,” she said.

South Africa’s 21-day lockdown was supposed to end on April 16, with Dlamini, Keynes and Majambe hoping that they would have been able to go back to work on April 17. However, the president has since extended the lockdown for a further 14 days.


FEATURED IMAGE: The ability to pay rent come month end is a big worry for those that have not been earning an income during the lockdown. Photo: Emma O’Connor.