Covid silences once buzzing Vilakazi Street

Everson Luhanga

Car parker, Musa Hlomoka, told Scrolla.Africa in a normal world, Vilakazi Street would be crowded with drivers fighting for parking spaces.

But this is not a normal world.

“There are no cars and no movement. We are all affected in a very bad way,” he said. 

Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, Soweto is the only street in the world where two Nobel Laureates once lived. 

Both former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu once owned houses on the street decades ago. 

It will also be remembered as a bustling entertainment street where restaurants and taverns that serve African cuisine stand shoulder to shoulder, entertaining international and local visitors alike.

Thabo Mdluli, Owner of Nex Dor restaurant, said he comes to the premises every day, but his hopes of saving his business are fading.

He told Scrolla.Africa he has no idea where the money will come from to pay both rent and staff, who have been getting paid from his personal savings since the last lockdown.

He said the government’s decision to ban the sale of alcohol is not the solution to the problems facing the country.

“There is a big unregulated market for alcohol. People who can afford it still buy booze at inflated prices. It is only the poor who are hit hard by these regulations,” he said.

Maphefo Phatsoane started working at the restaurant when it was started in 2012. 

“We have never seen business like this. Even the days where we were just starting we still had a decent number of customers,” said Maphefo.

Tony Mkhabela, owner of T&N Butcheries, who has been distributing meat, said Covid-19 has affected him in a very bad way. 

“I supply meat to many businesses around Soweto. Since Covid-19 hit South Africa the business has been dwindling,” he said. 

“Most places I supply with meat are places where they usually sell alcohol,” he said.