Popular Khayelitsha coffee shop closed by burglary

Owners of Department of Coffee are hoping to reopen if they can raise the capital to replace stolen coffee machines

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Photo of three people
Archive photo: GroundUp reported on the opening of the Department of Coffee in July 2012. From left to right: Vusumzi Mamile, Vuyile Msaku and Wongama Baleni. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

A former hotspot for caffeine lovers in Khayelitsha, the Department of Coffee has been forced to close. This follows a burglary six months ago which left the coffee shop stripped bare.

“They took everything – all our coffee machines, equipment, everything that was in the shop,” said barista Wongama Baleni.

This was not the first time the coffee shop, located opposite the Khayelitsha train station, has been burgled. In 2013 burglars stole two tills and a computer, but not the coffee machines.

Baleni said the business has been battling to recover. He told GroundUp that safety was a big concern at the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) area where the shop has its premises.

VPUU’s work stream leader Don Shay said, “There was a stage where paid security watched the building. They are no longer there. It was a company the City of Cape Town paid for. But, there is a neighbourhood watch group that is active there, but it’s not a 24-hour arrangement.”

“Khayelitsha is a dangerous area. There are safety and crime challenges in the neighbourhoods where VPUU operates,” said Shay.

Baleni said they have not given up. They have started running a mobile coffee shop outside the Khayelitsha Mall. They are using just one coffee machine. They have also started a crowdfunding campaign to buy coffee machines.

“So far so good in terms of the crowdfunding campaign. We are getting amazing support. We are hopeful that we will eventually be able to reopen and operate from our shop again, because business that side was great compared to here. Also, our coffee shop was close to the train station so we had many customers old and new. But we will see how everything goes,” said Baleni.

GroundUp reported the opening of the Department of Coffee in July 2012. It was also subsequently featured on CNN.

TOPICS:  Crime Economy

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