By Mary-Anne Gontsana, Thembela Ntongana and Tariro Washinyira
Toni Burton started Zizamele Ceramics in 2008. Located in Masiphumelele, a small township in the south of Cape Town, she employs nine people. She has trained them to do ceramics. She and her employees depend on this small business for their livelihood.
The kilns which make the pottery the business sells, cannot work without electricity. “We may need to resort to going to the studio at night to switch the kilns on after load-shedding ends at 8:30pm and before the 10am one begins,” Burton says. But she also says it’s dangerous to travel in Masiphumelele at night.
The kiln needs to reach a temperature of 1,000ºC over 12 hours. During load shedding it is impossible to get one firing cycle completed before the next outage begins. “Our glaze firing takes even longer as it needs to reach 1,175ºC over 14 hours,” Burton explains.
She is investigating using paraffin to power the kilns. That would mean getting rid of the ones that use electricity.