The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry says almost all big businesses whose establishments in the metro were looted and set alight in last week’s unrest, have indicated that they do not intend to close down. Damage and losses are believed to run into billions of rands.
“It’s a good thing that there is a serious commitment from most of the CEOs of the major retailers, majority of the CEOs of the medium businesses that have been destroyed and gutted that they are very much committed to rebuilding our city and our province. The commitment to rebuilding is really based on the commitment that we get from the government in terms of ensuring that law enforcement is beefed up. We have realised in these couple of days that we don’t have sufficient law enforcement within our city,” says the Chamber’s spokesperson Zama Phakathi.
Mop-up operations have started in some of the Durban shopping malls that have been looted including KwaMashu’s only shopping centre, Bridge City.
SABC News reporter Simphiwe Makhanya at the mall in KwaMashu:
All shops in the mall were looted and vandalised, while some were also set alight. Employees and some community members have started clearing up piles of rubble.
This is despite uncertainty if their jobs are safe or if the owners will be closing down completely. Surprise Khuzwayo, who works for a cleaning company, believes it can take months for the mall to recover.
“We are hurt about what has happened here in our mall because right now a lot of people have lost their jobs. They have to stay at home and wait for the mall to be fixed, so we’re just hoping that the mall will come right soon. I don’t know but I think this will take about six months or more.”
A restaurant manager at the mall, Alex Khanyile, says they will have to completely rebuild their premises, buy new equipment and replenish their stock.
“In terms of the damage, they took all the tables and the chairs. Inside, they burnt the office.”
The company that manages Cornubia, Bridge City, and River Horse malls estimates the damage incurred to be around R10 billion.
Shops looted in KwaZulu-Natal :
Fast approval of building plans
eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda says the city will cut red tape to fast-track approval of building plans for damaged properties.
“The city as we have presumed with the processes of rebuilding our communities our towns and we are going to work together with every stakeholder, with businesses that will be supporting them during this hardship and we understand that they will be putting applications, some of them for their buildings and all of that. We have given a clear directive to all our officials to expedite those plans. When those plans are submitted before us let’s assess them speedily so that we start rebuilding our city.”
While some undamaged businesses have reopened, others, including banks are operating on a limited capacity amid security concerns. Some damaged ATMs are yet to be replaced, while others have not been loaded with cash. Some bank branches in hot spot areas remain closed.
Meanwhile, some food retail outlets and pharmacies have reopened, while other shops like clothing and appliance stores remain closed. Authors- Vusi Makhosini and Nonhlakanipho Magwaza