Takesure Ranjisi worked as a waiter in Gqeberha for three years before he was retrenched in the 2020 lockdown, without any notice and with no payout, he says. He gave up trying to get Unemployment Insurance Fund money as his former employer did not cooperate.
Ranjisi decided to set up his own pizza takeaway – Lok-shin Pizza – in Walmer township. Lok-shin is a play on the word “location”, the word used for townships under apartheid.
“It was very painful to get retrenched during the lockdown because my family did not get government food handouts, since we are from Zimbabwe,” said Ranjisi.
He grew up in Centenary, Zimbabwe, and came to South Africa in 2016. He has worked as a cleaner, waiter, shop manager and, importantly, also as a baker.
“I saw a gap,” he says. There was nobody selling pizza in Nelson Mandela Bay’s townships. He started making pizza in his kitchen.
He did not have enough money to buy the necessary equipment, but luckily some of the regular clients from the restaurant where he had worked bought groceries for his family and gave him money for rent and money he could use to buy baking supplies.
He started selling pizza from home. Then someone leaving the fast-food business offered him a freight container. “It was a boost for my pizza selling business as people who used to buy food from the container were happy that pizza was added to the menu,” said Ranjisi.
He now pays local young people to deliver to people’s homes.
He sells a range of popular pizza combinations, such as Mexican beef and chicken and mushroom pizzas. He is busiest on weekends; weekdays are slow. He works seven days a week from 9am to 7pm. “Chicken mayo is the most favoured flavour, at all times,” he says.
While GroundUp was interviewing Ranjisi, shots could be heard. The area is notorious for gun violence.
“Walmer Township has too much crime and poverty,” says Ranjisi. He would like to teach young people baking skills so that they can earn a living.