Joburg restaurants stock up on rat poison as Pikitup strike continues

Lizeka Tandwa, News24

Johannesburg – Restaurant owners are buying rat poison as rubbish piles up in the streets of Braamfontein, following a two-week long Pikitup strike.

Three food businesses in the revitalised Braamfontein area said they were concerned about the health of their customers after suddenly finding themselves with piles of dirt on their door step.

A small food market owner, Mrs Habib, complained that there was a stench near her shop as rubbish piled up outside her door.

Habib said they had already purchased rat poison because they feared an infestation.

"It’s sick. You can just smell the rot coming from outside. It’s on my doorstep and there is nothing I can do about it.

"When I heard from my neighbours that they had bought rat poison, I knew I had to do the same," she said.

Corner coffee shop manager in Braamfontein, Steven Moloi, said he had also bought rat poison after staff said they saw of the rodents.

Many businesses affected

"It’s not good for the business. We decided to buy rat traps when staff said they saw rats outside near the bins. If nothing happens, we will be forced to close the shop for health reasons," he said.

Moloi said the coffee shop also baked fresh bread which he feared might attract rats.

"So many businesses here are worried. We have restaurants that have excellent service and food, we can’t afford this situation. It would destroy customer confidence.

"At the moment we have taken precautions, but as you can see outside, it stinks. No one buys bread or coffee from a place that has a stench," Moloi told News24.

Another small restaurant owner, Michael Wilkinson, said he was also concerned about the rot outside his business.

He said he had already received three quotes from pest control companies.

"I can’t take any chances. We recently opened and we are still riding on our momentum. I decided to find out more about pest control when neighbours told me about rats. I also hired a company to clean our kitchens. It cost us R4 000 already," he told News24.

Samwu members embarked on an unprotected strike two weeks ago. The union said it was unhappy with salary adjustments, the abandoning of certain policies and lack of protective clothing.