S. Africa power cuts hit small businesses

STORY: They've battled through a global health crisis and are squeezed by inflation at a five-year peak.

And now South Africa's small business owners are once again feeling the strain - hit by some of the country's worst ever power cuts.

At her hair salon in Johannesburg's Soweto township, Sonia Jomal said she had to reduce business hours.

When the power goes off, in what is known locally as load-shedding, she can't provide basic services like a hair dryer or hot water.

"I used to have two employees, but I had to cut one and keep the other."

Struggling state utility Eskom implemented the so-called "Stage 6" outages on Tuesday (June 28) and Wednesday (June 29).

What that meant was at least six hours a day without power for most South Africans.

Co-owner of a fast food restaurant Mathozi Matomela says there was an immediate impact.

"We get a third of what we sell. If we sell six thousand, now we get two thousand, so this is, we get a third of what we sell a day."

Matomela said he would be considering laying off staff if the power cuts continued.

On Wednesday Eskom said the power system was likely to remain constrained for some time and that a maintenance backlog could take weeks to clear.

Eskom's intermittent power cuts over more than a decade are one of the major obstacles to growth in Africa's most industrialized economy.

The company has blamed the outages on a strike linked to a wage dispute with trade unions.

Eskom and the unions are due to discuss a new salary offer on Friday (July 1).