Stationery, transport and lunches add to costs
From the weekend until yesterday, long queues were a dominant outside shops selling school uniforms and stationery as parents found themselves in a last-minute dash to get their children ready for the new academic year.
Sowetan visited several shops in Johannesburg and Pretoria where parents were standing in snaking queues with their children in the scorching heat.
Some had been there for hours as they waited for their turn to shop ahead of schools reopening tomorrow in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the North West and Free State.
Parents said they had spent between R500 and R5,000 on uniform, stationery, lunch packs and transport for the next few weeks for their children.
Mother of two, Emma Rakohoho, 35, said she was very disappointed about the prices as she felt school uniform shops were taking advantage of them.
Rakohoho’s two sons aged 9 and 12 attend different schools in Pretoria and she said costs of uniform, stationery, lunch packs and transport have all gone up.
“I have spent around R5,000 on school things only and retailers don’t care about the prices and every year prices are going up no matter the status of the economy,” said Rakohoho.
She paid R1,358 for uniform, R1,800 on stationery with much-needed lunch packs costing about R800. They include French polony, cheese and patties.
Rakohoho said she still has to pay for transport which would set her back R1,400 monthly and needs bread or rolls every day.
“I’m pleading with the retailers to hear our pleas as parents to reduce uniform prices because they are killing us as prices go up every year,” said Rakohoho.
Godfrey Sadake, 48, who lives in Dobsonville, Soweto, said he spent about R500 on a jersey and tie for his son who will be starting grade 2 this year.
‘’My child is still going to the same school as the one he went to last year, so I do not have to buy a lot of clothing items. My only concern is that I have to spent around R700 for food for preparing my child’s lunch box. Last year I would spent around R600 on food,” said Sadake.
Sadake said he buys food such as cheese, polony, juice and snacks. He said he buys the products in bulk.
Ontireletse Manyaapelo of Alberton complained that his son’s school transport had gone up by R50 to R1,400.
“I was not buying uniform this year but stationery is so expensive. I think I paid R700 for a few items that included a schoolbag, scissors and lunchbox. But the transport is more expensive than the school fees. The school fees have not gone up. For lunch, things have gone up. Last year, a pack of six juices was costing R40 and this year it’s R60.”
Phumzile Kheswa, 38, of New Canada near Soweto, said she spent R1,000 on uniform for her two children who accompanied her to the stores.
Kheswa said the cost for the uniform remained the same as compared to last year.
“I bought shirts, jerseys, ties and shoes. It all cost me around R1,000. I also spent R300 on stationery. I bought pens, pencils, plastic book covers and exercise books,” said Kheswa.
Kheswa’s children, ages 15 and 8, will be starting grades 10 and 3, respectively.
However, Phumzile Hatsane, 38, of White City in Soweto, said the price of uniform increased when she bought tunics for her two daughters.
Her children, aged 13 and 11, will be starting grades 9 and 6, respectively.
“I came here to buy tunics for my children. Last year I bought them for R300 but today I got them for R320,” said Hatsane.
Hatsane did hasten to add that she is relieved that her scholar transport cost is still the same as last year. She said she still pays R1,400 on transport.
Portia Mkhize from Northriding said: “Stationery and uniform were expensive. Last year, I spent R750 on my daughter doing grade 1 while the one who was doing grade 3, I paid R699. This time I did not pay much because I am adding things that they don’t have which is about R1,000. For transport I pay R1,000 for both.”
Seamstress Joyce Masango, who makes school uniforms, said the demand for uniform is way too high.
Masango said many parents approach her asking for a discount on school uniform because they can’t do the same at retail shops who are expensive.
“I make all kinds of school uniform and I’m good at my work and parents come to me because they love my work and my prices are reasonable,” said Masango.
Mellissa van Dyk, who has been working at Constantia School Wear Shop in Randburg for 32 years, said: “We are definitely experiencing higher volumes of customers this year than in the last two years. I guess the increase is caused by the fact that parents know when the kids are going back to school. In the past two years, things were very uncertain because of the Covid-19.”