Kraaifontein tshisanyama entrepreneur thrives

Tshisanyama has become a popular business in townships across South Africa. Credit: Photos supplied.

Mzoli’s in Gugulethu is Cape Town’s most renowned tshisanyama, with locals and tourists gathering in their hundreds to enjoy the braaied meat and party atmosphere over weekends.
Now it seems Mzoli’s has some competition in the form of the Adwa and Wallacedene Cafes near Kraaifontein.

Guguletu, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Braai smoke wafts across the surrounding streets chock-a-block with flashy cars and patrons jiving to beats kicked out by local DJs as they place their orders for chops, steak and wors grilled over open fires by Vuyani Plaatjie’s staff, who are helping him put Kraaifontein on the map as one of the places to be seen on the weekend.

Plaatjie, who is 38-years-old, is not new to the business of selling food, having started out selling sweets to fellow pupils at Ngqebenya Primary school in Lady Frere when he was in Grade 4.

The Adwa and Wallacedene Cafe owner came to Cape Town in 1992 to continue his high school at Khayamandi High in Stellenbosch, where he continued his entrepreneural ways by selling sweets to fellow pupils.

It was a business he continued after matriculating in 1996, turning a profit selling sweets to various schools full time until he decided to try his hand in Cape Town’s burgeoning film industry in 2005, when he joined the film and production industry as a volunteer in order to learn the ropes.

By 2007, he was permanently employed as an independent filmmaker in television. But another enterprise continued to call.

He resigned two years later and entered the tshisanyama business, first opening a barbershop which also sold grilled chicken wings at R5 a pop. An additional string to his venture was delivery of his delicious chicken wings to the nearest schools.

Within a year he had expanded his barbershop into bigger premises and named it the Adwa Cafe in homage to the 1896 battle of Adwa in which Ethiopia beat back Italy’s attempts to colonise it.

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Ten people are now permanently employed at Adwa Cafe, with four casuals complementing the staff over the weekends.

Then, on 30 September this year, he opened a second branch, called the Wallacedene Cafe, situated 5km away from Adwa Cafe.

“My intention is to open other branches in other locations like Mbekweni,” says Plaatjies.

He still offers a delivery service to people living as far afield as Stellenbosch and Bellville.

Not only do his employees benefit from his barbershop and tshisanyama operations, music DJs benefit by getting paid gigs at the Cafes to entertain customers, and local traders benefit from the increased number of people coming to the area.

Nomsa Salman lives next to the Adwa Cafe and has a roaring trade in vetkoek sales to Adwa customers who want a bit of starch to go with their meat. Salman says she is “very happy” to be a neighbour.

DJs and musicians are also allowed to sell their CDs to customers and staff, who are helped to widen their skills. Others, such as delivery driver, Bulelani Hessin said that he has learnt the importance of interacting well with customers. He is now thinking of moving on to open his own business.

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