Concern as barber shops trade illegally

Town Centre barbers and hair stylists are worried about police not shutting down hair salons and barber shops operating as usual during level 3 of the national Covid-19 lockdown.

On Monday June 1, while South Africa moved to level 3, with more sectors of the economy opening, high-risk economic activities remained prohibited, including restaurants, bars, taverns, except for delivery or collection of food; accommodation and domestic air travel, except for business travel, which will be phased in on dates to be announced; conferences, events, entertainment and sporting activities; and personal care services, including hairdressing and beauty services.

Antonio Meyer, from Tafelsig, said: “SAPS or law enforcement are there to uphold what the president has put in place as a regulation and to enforce it. Not to wait on a call of complaint.”

He has reported various barber shops and hair salons trading illegally in and around the Town Centre, which has made it difficult for him to earn a living.

Mr Meyer said the police and law enforcement officers were “slack” and that his calls had fallen on deaf ears. “Let me put it in simple terms – if I had to work for a company and my boss expects me to work to the best of my ability I must do so or I must leave,” he said.

Mr Meyer, who has been a barber for 30 years, said his trade broke down overnight. “I’ve got a bond, debt, school fees and lots of stuff to focus on. As a household we are struggling because I am a barber and my wife is a hairstylist. We do not have an income. It is really stressful. We missed out on Easter and Eid celebrations, whereas all over Mitchell’s Plain it was ‘business as usual’. My point is, are these regulations taken seriously, particularly with physical distance,” he said.

Mariaan Aron, from Kuils River, who rents a chair in a Malawian’s barber shop, is at her wits’ end, wondering how she can make ends meet. She has been doing hair in the Town Centre for more than 20 years. “Dit gaan baie swaar. Hy (Mr Meyer) fight vir ons. It is horrible that we can’t open.

“Ons weet hoe om te werk met ons kliente. We can work by appointment and ensure there are only 10 people in the shop. Dit gaan bitter swaar met ons. Ek kan nie eens kliente by hul huise doen nie.”

She said even if they do open most of their clients would have made other plans and found other hairdressers. “Ons verloor nou baie in die tyd en nou werk my seun hier en daar, dan bring hy ’* paar rande en sente in. I’m the breadwinner,” she said.

Mitchell’s Plain police station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam acknowledged that there are complaints about shops who were not complying with the Disaster Management Regulations. “We have responded on each occasion and where persons were found in contravention, files have been opened.”

Brigadier Goolam said photographs were sent to him but when police arrived the businesses were closed. “The police cannot be expected to guard the barber shops as we have multi-dimensional challenges in the precinct.”

He said all businesses affected by the lockdown, including barber shops and business owners, were to follow the processes to claim for assistance as per announcement by the president and accept that businesses as a whole have suffered heavy losses.

Brigadier Goolam said SAPS have been policing barber shops and spaza shops which have contravened the law. “I am satisfied with the output of our efforts with the resources allocated to us.

“Mr Meyer doesn’t work for a policing agency, it is therefore a misconception on his part that we are not policing.”

He said Mr Meyer could have his opinions but that he should engage with the police in order to establish what has been done. “We want to encourage him to become part of the business forum in the Town Centre. So that he can have an idea of what efforts are being made in terms of law enforcement in addressing the challenges facing the Town Centre,” said Brigadier Goolam.

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 (Beacon Valley, Eastridge, Mitchell’s Plain CBD and parts of Portland) and chairman of Wolfgat Sub-council, said barbers and hairstylists operating illegally was a problem and that the situation in the Town Centre was particularly bad when shoppers refused to wear masks or observe physical distancing.

Wayne Dyason, spokesperson for City of Cape Town law enforcement, said during the lockdown there have been various joint operations with SAPS.“The law enforcement department is aware of Mr Meyer’s complaints and it is dealt with daily,” he said.

Mr Dyason said residents should report crime on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone, 107 from a landline to report illegal activities or the police station on 021 370 1600 or 021 370 1706.