News / Africa

South African Businesses Allowing Mourning Time

Members of the public make their way through the Union Buildings to pay their respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela during his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.Members of the public make their way through the Union Buildings to pay their respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela during his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
x
Members of the public make their way through the Union Buildings to pay their respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela during his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
Members of the public make their way through the Union Buildings to pay their respects to former South African President Nelson Mandela during his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— Many South African retailers will close their doors on Sunday, as the country lays its beloved leader Nelson Mandela to rest in Qunu, his ancestral home. During the 10 days of mourning for the former president, some companies have also allowed employees time off to pay respects at various memorials around the country. Employees and analysts alike say the time off and closures are good business.  

Jacques Bakker went to the home of the late former president Nelson Mandela, along with four co-workers on Monday morning. His company, Galileo Capital, surprised its employees when they'd arrived at work, giving them a chance to mourn.

"We just came to the office today," he said. "We didn't know that this has been arranged. So we got to the office and they said to us they've arranged a taxi, and they'll be taking us in a couple of batches of people to come pay our respects and just see the memorial to Mr. Nelson Mandela."  

Bakker says it was a great feeling to have his company and boss make that effort.

"I think it's fantastic that he created this opportunity for us," said Bakker. "It just adds a little more value to your company. It just brings a little more ethics through to the company, as well."  

As the nation has made its way through a 10-day period of mourning, many businesses have followed suit.

Anita Vandenberg, who works for JD Group, which owns more than a dozen retail businesses in South Africa, stopped by Mandela's home on Monday on her lunch break.

She said her company was allowing stores to close from 11 - 3 on Tuesday so that employees could watch the official memorial at the FNB sports stadium in Johannesburg - broadcast internationally and on public screens throughout the country.

"I wanted to take my laptop and sit in the canteen and watch the memorial service and now we've been given the time to do that without having to worry about work," said Vandenberg. "So it definitely gives you the feeling of being engaged and feeling like they respect this very special time and the emotions that we have."  

Major retailers such as Woolworth's, Shoprite, Massmart and stores within the JD Group will shut down Sunday for Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Jean Pierre Verster, an analyst at 36One Asset Management, says the economic effect of closing for the funeral is negligible.

"I don't foresee that this week's worth of mourning should have a material impact on the economy... So I think the retailers in terms of the employers have been quite clever in doing something that has a very significant gesture of goodwill attached to it, but does not have a meaningful economic impact,” said Verster.

He says there aren't many figures whose deaths would lead to such closures.

"Because of Mandela's stature and his importance for the country and the whole nation,” said Verster. "I think there is a special need to be sensitive for the issue, to have respect for cultural tradition regarding the process of mourning. Therefore I think it’s the right thing to do."

Closures weren't the only gesture of mourning from businesses. Many have taken out ads in national papers, and put up billboards paying respect to the anti-apartheid icon.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid