Namaskaram, thank you Hindu Maha Sabha of South Africa for allowing me to be a part of your Woman’s Day Programme.

On the 26th of March 2020 the South African government announced a national lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid 19, that was meant to last only 21 days. Small businesses were forced to shut their doors with no way of generating an income. While many industries were affected by this, hair salons experienced a devastating impact initially only being allowed to open in level one.

There is no set of instructions to aid with how to survive a pandemic, we sought guidance in observing the protocols followed by other businesses. However occasionally the emotional stress in some cases outweighed the financial stress that was brought as a result of the virus.

As always though our main priority and responsibility was our staff, we had to ensure we assisted with all UIF claims and submitting paperwork on a system that continuously crashed.

Unfortunately, overheads did not disappear during a pandemic given the decimated economy.

After three months of no income, desperation forced certain hairdressers to illegally do house calls. Although certain clients attempted a ‘do it yourself’ experience, it proved unsatisfactory, as it could never replace the connection and community that exists in hair salons.

Sadly, the reality that hairdressers faced was a loss of clientele to smaller businesses who continued to illegally work during the lockdown. This resulted in the devastating closure of many businesses, some being 30 years old. To make matters worse, many hairdressers did not receive the UIF payment due. Small business assistance was also not honored although applications were made.

Advocate Carlo Viljoen and his team of associates at Victor online legal consultancy, very kindly decided to assist and fight for the reopening of all hair salons. After many days of studying the case, Carlos confidently headed to the high court on the 19th May 2020 to apply for an urgent court interdict for our industry to reopen, arguing that the financial strain was becoming too hard to bare. Thankfully this was the start of the end of our wait to return to work at lockdown level three.

The support of my husband, my children, family, friends and my loyal customers really showed me that as a community we will get through this crisis. Although this pandemic has been more emotionally draining, the love and bond between my family grew stronger. The most gratifying thing was that I got to spend more time with my husband and girls than I ever had the chance to in my entire career. It was their love and constant motivation that got me through this and still continues to do so. God has blessed me with so much and for that I am eternally filled with gratitude.

Hairdressers were not giving up without a fight. It was a beautiful strong comradery amongst all the hairdressers from all over the country. As we move forward with great optimism we look forward to rising above this challenging and trying time together.

I would like to conclude with a quote I find so appropriate during these difficult times: “When we stand together, we all win, we all grow, we all get heard, we all become more powerful

Kind Regards

Komeshini Naidoo of Hair Sensation