Stokvels and tuckshop owners in Metsimaholo, in the Free State, have launched their own supermarket.
Upkasi Supermarket is the first of its kind in the area.
The launch was held in Zamdela, in Sasolburg, and the store founders say it lays a foundation that intends to develop a model of assisting Black businesses. It is also in line with the government’s township economic recovery plan.
Upkasi supermarket chain stores founder and director, Piet Mothepu, says the company is 100% Black-owned and aims to develop and restore Black local economy back to the community in a form of affordable investment opportunities as well as create sustainable jobs.
“Upkasi was started by stokvel and tuckshop owners around Metsimaholo in June this year. Effects of COVID-19 made us realise that as business owners we must join hands and work together and in that way we will have a greater voice, buying power, and using models such as crowd-funding and investment we will surely revive our township economy” says Mothepu.
The stokvel started with seven members, who worked together and bought stock in bulk. It has now grown to 25 active members, who own and have shares in the Upkasi Supermarket.
The first Upkasi supermarket is now open and in operation at Mooidraai next to the old farmhouse.
“We have a big and a bold plan, we will be opening other Upkasi supermarkets around Metsimaholo in the near future, and working with other role players such as emerging farmers, other Black-owned supermarkets and various organisations and stakeholders we will be able to grow our business to processing, packaging and distribution level,” adds Mothepu.
“We are optimistic that we will one day have our own Upkasi, bakery, butchery, vegetable store and all this will benefit members and most importantly create employment, and members will leave a legacy behind for generations to come” he says.
Metsimaholo Executive Mayor, Lindiwe Tshongwe, and her team, including officials from the Free State Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development, attended the launch. – Report by Puisano Ditaba new reporter Lekhotla Koena
The public is urged to donate to the Free State Agriculture’s (FSA) disaster fund to assist farmers who have lost livestock and had their infrastructure destroyed by wildfires.
Animal feed or cash will be accepted.
According to the Farmers’ Weekly, the fires, fanned by strong winds, have destroyed nearly 100 000ha in the western Free State since the weekend.
The fires reportedly started on Sunday when service delivery protesters burned tyres on the R708 road between Hertzogville and Christiana.
Flames from the burning tyres are thought to have spread to the surrounding veld, from where they fanned out to Hertzogville, Boshof, Bultfontein and Hoopstad, according to Gys Olivier, chairperson of the Hertzogville District Farmers’ Union – who spoke to the Farmers’ Weekly.
He described the burnt areas as something akin to a lunar landscape, “eerily quiet and devoid of life”.
However, Olivier said the affected farmers were heartened by all the support that had poured in.
“I have to commend the Working on Fire teams for doing their utmost to contain the inferno. The assistance we received from all sides gave us the courage and resolve to stay positive. The affected districts functioned in a unified manner, forging ahead to fight the inferno. It goes without saying that we are hurt and shocked to the core, but we are not without hope,” he said.
While the cost of the damage caused by the inferno is not yet known, one Hertzogville farmer is said to have lost R900 000 worth of livestock, and the damage to the infrastructure on his farm is R3 million.
The Free State Agriculture has reportedly made R100 000 available from its disaster fund for the transportation of animal feed to the affected areas.
Those who want to donate are urged to call Elaine Olivier on 082 787 9660 or deposit money to the disaster fund at Absa’s account 470 940 670. The reference for the donation is Ramp.
The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture has called on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, to declare affected places as disaster areas.
“We commend the farmers and farming communities for saving lives and ensuring that there are no casualties, and for acting swiftly to prevent further devastation and decimation of property,” says the committee in a statement.
Chairperson Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela added: “We trust that the investigation will rule out the possibility of arson as it is inconceivable why anyone would want to cause such widespread destruction.”