Sturk’s Tobacconists in Greenmarket Square is the latest Cape business to close its doors due to the negative effects of lockdown regulations.
Sturk’s Tobacco shop has been an iconic Cape Town institution for 226 years. The store was established in 1793, selling cigarettes, tobacco and any other related items to Cape residents. Over the centuries, the store survived many moments in South African and world history, including both World Wars, the Spanish Flu and Apartheid.
The tobacco ban under lockdown regulations, however, has tremendously affected this renowned business.
The sale of cigarettes and tobacco-related products has been banned since March 27, when the lockdown first began. As a result, this business has been unable to operate at all. Owner Diane Chakim is not willing to pay rental fees if she cannot legally operate her business, and with no end in sight for this ban, she has decided to close the store’s doors.
Owner Diane Chakim is heartbroken that the store must close. She believes that the ban has had far reaching implications, not only on cigarette smokers but for South African society in general.
“This is not just about the smoker and/or the shop owner – this is about an industry that employs thousands of people, from the tobacco farmer to the factories to the cigarette companies and, finally, after going,through many more channels, to the consumer. Shame on Dlamini-Zuma and her cronies. Shame on Cyril for kowtowing to these unscrupulous people,” she wrote on Facebook.
Chakim also spoke on the rise of illegal cigarettes, saying: “The government of our country has caused this illegal, corrupt and exploitative situation. Poor people are being robbed while small businesses like mine, are losing income and, in many cases, their livelihoods. ”
While the Greenmarket store is closed, Chakim plans to still service Sturk’s loyal customers after lockdown.
“The minute we are allowed to trade, we will be ready to fill your orders. Please let us know exactly what you need, specific items and quantity and we will get them ready ASAP,” she wrote on Facebook. “Please be patient and allow us to rise again and service you, our customers, from a different platform. Keep watching this space.”
Sturk’s is not the only Cape institution that has closed down due to lockdown regulations. Some restaurants have also had to shut their doors amid financial strain, including popular Mother City eateries such as The Kitchen, Brownies and Downies, and smak.
Even Wolfgat, the Western Cape’s very own internationally-recognised restaurant of the year, is struggling to stay afloat despite being one of the most popular before the lockdown started.
Picture: Facebook / Cape Town Central City Improvement District