Ekurhuleni businesses hard hit by looting
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Johannesburg – Economic hubs are being hit hard by the ongoing looting in the country.
Parts of Ekurhuleni, including most Kathorus areas – Vosloorus, Katlehong, Spruitview, Phumula, Leondale and Rondebult – have all been affected by the unrest.
Chris Hani Crossing, the mall in Vosloorus, had to be cordoned off as people looted shops throughout the night on Monday. Police presence was high on Tuesday morning and throughout the day. Looters threw stones and other objects at the police while waiting for a chance to enter the cordoned-off premises.
Business owners were told that the mall was on fire around 11pm on Monday but thought it would be protected after the news that the SANDF was deployed. However, when they went to check on their stores on Tuesday morning, they found their shops ransacked.
“They took all the computers and the printers and some of the chairs were thrown outside, a little bit of cash that was left from the Sunday shift was also taken,” said Isaac Mtshali.
The owner of the Internet Café at MelodyBusiness Centre at Chris Hani Crossing said the shop had been operating from the mall since 2010.
“I can’t even estimate just how much we have lost. We had 18 computers in the shop with the hard drives. I am stuck now, but my biggest worry is my staff. I have four ladies and a technician. We helped students who needed to get some training as well, so now I just don’t know. It has all disappeared.”
Security guards at the Chris Hani Mall in Vosloorus force looters to swim in the water released by the sprinkler system. Video: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Mtshali said he heard about the mall being on fire from his daughter who was all the way in Pretoria.
“I told her there was nothing I could do as it was too dangerous to go outside. We could hear gunshots so we thought the army was around. But in the morning, to our surprise, we were looted.”
Mtshali said he could not understand the lawlessness.
“Some people are hungry and others are just pure criminals. If they were stealing food I would understand but how do you steal television sets and computers? I just can’t explain it.”
He managed to salvage one small printer and two computer screens.
“The police told us to save whatever we could. Only the screens were left. So that’s all I was able to take,” he said.
In Phumula, looters obstructed the road with burning tyres and rocks while emptying out supermarkets Choppies and Shoprite. In Rondebult, liquor stores were looted while Sontonga Mall in Katlehong was looted throughout the night on Monday.
Soldiers are yet to be deployed in Ekurhuleni.
Omphile Molotsane, a business owner and community member of Spruitview said he first heard about the commotion at their local shopping centre through a Facebook post.
“We have a community group that shares information as and when things are happening. It was around 9pm on Sunday night when people were starting to converge at the shopping centre after looting parts of Vosloorus. They first hit the liquor store before going on to loot shops like Pep the Spar. On Monday they looted again and set alight a shop.”
Some community members tried to stop the looting but they were attacked and shot at.
Molotsane, who owns fast food business Pork Munchies in the area, said he had to halt opening his shop to avoid any mishaps.
“What is saddening is that Spruitview is not a poverty stricken area at all. That just proves the criminality of this looting because
In the neighbouring more affluent areas like Sunward Park and Elspark, shopping centres were packed to capacity with residents stocking up on groceries and fuel.
Empty bread trays and milk stands in stores like Spar left people queueing waiting for the next stock to come in.
Filling stations were packed to capacity as car owners waited to fill their tanks.
In Ekurhuleni, over 60 people were arrested and two deaths were recorded over the last three days.