Luxuries are a thing of the past
Nozizwe Mapoma (63) lives with her son Lungisa, his wife Khanyisa and two grandsons Inganathi (11) and Ayabonga (12) in their two-bedroom government-subsidised home in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth.
Mapoma receives a pension from the government, her son works for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and her daughter-in-law works at a factory. Despite three incomes, the family still battles to pay the bills.
“We are finding it very difficult to cope with the ever-increasing prices and the expensive cost of living. Between the three of us, we share the responsibility, and that makes it better,” says Mapoma.
“For instance, I buy electricity and make sure that the small things like milk and bread are there for the children when they go to school.
“The parents of the two children have to pay the bigger bills, like school fees, instalments on their two cars, and making sure there is food in the fridge and the rates are paid,” she says.
The Mapomas have had to make some cuts to stay afloat, and they avoid loan sharks at all costs.
Luxuries that they used to indulge in a few years ago – such as the occasional dinner out and holidays, as well as regular purchases of mutton, chicken and beef – are now things of the past.
“These days, we only buy chicken because it is much cheaper, and sometimes beef. We no longer buy mutton because it is too expensive. We buy clothes because we need to, not just for the sake of buying them. We did not go on holiday last December because we can no longer afford to. It’s mainly about survival – there is no time for luxuries for us,” says Mapoma.
The family spends about R2 000 a month on groceries, and close to R500 a month on prepaid electricity. Mapoma also has to pay R200 for her burial-society scheme and spends about R100 on cosmetics.
“We try to save by not switching the geyser on. Instead of an electric stove, we use gas, which is much cheaper. The parents of the two boys used to go to work in separate cars, but because of the high fuel prices, they now use one car,” she says.
“The times are really tough. I feel sorry for the upcoming generation because it’s getting worse by the day.”
Sitting on her cream couch and watching TV, Mapoma says financial pressures sometimes meant they were unable to afford their R319 monthly DStv subscription.
“At least we don’t have to pay transport money for the kids because they go to a school nearby and just walk there. They each get R10 daily to buy snacks at school. They also eat at school through the feeding scheme. If they don’t want to eat at school, they can also come back to eat here at home during breaks, because I am always home,” she says.
“I don’t understand why prices keep going up but the salaries remain the same. Everything keeps going up, but there is nothing for the people.”
BALANCING ACT Nozizwe Mapoma (63) and her grandson Inganathi (11) at home in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth