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Soweto's new lease on life

By Penwell Dlamini Business Reporter | 2012-05-25 07:23:23.0

Will businesses benefit from the new R150-million state-of-the-art theatre?

MOST of the business community surrounding the Soweto Theatre is optimistic that it will cash in from the new development.

But some are not as optimistic and think it will bring an audience that is beyond their reach.

Today the theatre officially opens its doors to the public.

The R150-million state-of-the-art theatre is expected to bring new life to Soweto and small businesses surrounding the area believe they will get a piece of the cake.

Reggie Makhetha, manager of Roots & Gallery in Central Western Jabavu, is one of the optimists.

"I am expecting the traffic from people before they go to the show or after the show to increase. They can come and have a drink and something to eat."

His business offers township food, art and live music performances on Dimakatso Street in Central Western Jabavu.

Makhetha said he would attend the official opening of the theatre.

He said he was expecting more people to come into the area when the museum, which is under construction, also opens its doors.

"In the past people have been focusing on Vilakazi Street in Orlando, but now things will change."

Lerato Koena, MD of Lendinde Cleaning and Projects, said the theatre should not just bring shows to the community but also other opportunities.

"Here there is no establishment which can teach kids acting or drama," she said.

"I expect the theatre to bring projects that will give people jobs."

But Tony Mkhabela, owner of T&N Butchery, was not so optimistic about benefiting from the theatre.

Mkhabela said there had not been any communication with the business community in the area about the theatre.

"Personally I do not think it will bring extra business to me because I do not know what type of people will be going there," he said.

"Usually people who attend theatre, in my view, are more middle-class people and they do not come to my butchery or have a braai at my shisanyama."

Titus Mandlazi, who runs a fresh produce market, was hoping that the traffic to the new theatre would bring money to his business as previous developments did.

"Since they built the Jabulani Mall, more people are passing here and they buy fresh produce from me."

Just three streets away from Mandlazi, Rambelani Pilusa runs a restaurant called Leshala Cuisine which serves game meat.

"With the theatre, Soweto will be more interesting now. The route to the theatre will be more interesting. The Tsietsi Museum is coming up, so it will be positive."

Pilusa said he had already started planning for more people visiting the area.