Boom and bust times for paraffin dealers

Shortages mean paraffin selling is a good business, but only when you can get supplies

Photo of women walking with containers

Taking paraffin home in Marikana, Philippi. Photo: Masixole Feni

By Masixole Feni

15 July 2016

Photo of a woman sitting with plastic drums
Nonzame, 47, travels all the way from Delft to Philippi. She wakes up at midnight to get to Goal Supermarket at 2am. When she arrives, there are already people waiting for paraffin. “I sometimes buy five containers of 25 litres,” she says. One container costs her R237.50 (R9.50 per litre).
Photo of people queuing
Nomzame says sometimes the supermarket sets a limit of 100 litres per customer. “Then I have to organise my children to also stand in line. Sometimes we sleep over in Philippi in front of the shopping centre to be able to get a bit more so I have enough to sell from home [in Delft].”
Photo of containers
With the current shortage of paraffin, she now charges R15 a litre. Some dealers charge R25 per litre. Prices vary from community to community. She says, “Sometimes we charge higher prices, because two weeks can pass and we won’t get paraffin from the supplying supermarkets.”
Photo of a petrol pump filling a drum
She says, in the past, they would buy we from petrol stations, but many are out of paraffin so they now buy at the supermarkets. Goal Supermarket has two paraffin pumps.
Photo of a long queue
When paraffin is available, the queues are long at Goal Supermarket in Philippi.