Putting bread - and chicken - on the table

| Johnnie Isaac
Twelve Khayelitsha women earn a living slaughtering and plucking chickens. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Nosisa Bhomela is one of 12 Khayelitsha women who slaughter, pluck and clean chickens in exchange for chicken heads and feet to sell and take home for their meals.

They are part of Pamela Sasa’s chicken business, which sells freshly slaughtered chickens on the street next to Site C Taxi Terminus in Khayelitsha.

The team of 15 people includes the women who sort the heads and feet and make up packets of four chicken heads and eight feet which sell for R10.

Pamela Sasa’s chicken business employs a team of 15 people. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Bhomela said she came up with that idea when she saw the two young women running the business were doing everything themselves.

“I noticed that they were struggling, I approached them and asked to assist in exchange for chicken heads and feet and they agreed,” said Bhomela. The business has since grown and Bhomela’s team of 12 slaughter up to 3,000 chickens a week.

The group say they enjoy their work and are bonding like a family, “Sometimes we fight but we resolve our issues. We are a mix of different generations and that is good, because we have different experiences in life,” said Xoliswa Sityata. Sityata said she was the youngest in her mid thirties and the oldest were in their early fifties.

Nosisa Bhomela and her team slaughter up to 3,000 chickens a week. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Their concern is the scarcity of jobs, which affects the business. “When people don’t have money, they don’t buy and that means we don’t make enough,” said Nomelikhaya Thukela.

But the income she earned met her basic needs, she said. “We are able to buy food and electricity and help children with school requirements. Even if you don’t have money left you can see that you have done something.”

The group said their bosses treated them well, “They buy us food hampers sometimes and we slaughter a sheep to celebrate when things have gone well,” said Sityata.

Sasa inherited the business from her mother and grew up helping her.

She said there were many challenges. “Sometimes you slaughter more and people buy less. Chicken easily gets spoiled in summer, so you have to drop the price to sell. Sometimes chickens die on the way from the farm and that’s my loss.”

But, Sasa said, her mother had taught her gratitude, “Even if I sell two chickens, I have to be grateful because I can still put bread on the table.”

TOPICS:  Arts and culture Economy

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