It will take years to recover from July unrest: Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business Melanie Veness has told the South African Human Rights Commission hearings at Umhlanga north of Durban that it will take businesses years to recover following the damage that was caused by the unrest in the province in July.

Pietermaritzburg is amongst the areas that were affected by the unrest that wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal and some parts of Gauteng. Over 350 people died during the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Veness recalls visiting some of the businesses that were torched and looted during the unrest. She says it was devastating to also see the bodies of people who died during the unrest.

“To listen to what people have gone through, just brings it home. The first day that I sat on Bouncely Road, where most of the businesses along there were set on fire and destroyed I thought I was on some kind of war zone, the distance seems real, that it was the place that I frequent often. It was completely devastating to see that the destruction was not just about looting, it was about destroying everything and it was orchestrated and I think that was the hardest thing for me, the fact that you can see how orchestrated it was.”

Meanwhile, many have been raising concerns about the absence of police visibility during the unrest which led to communities coming together to protect their businesses and homes.

Veness adds that after the unrest they were told by police that officers were instructed to stand down.

SAHRC hearing into July unrest: 18 November 2021