‘How am I going to feed my kids’: Shop employees devastated by looting

Scenes of looted shops at Sontonga Mall in Katlehong on the East Rand. Picture: Rosetta Msimango/City Press
Scenes of looted shops at Sontonga Mall in Katlehong on the East Rand. Picture: Rosetta Msimango/City Press

They arrived for work this morning to a war zone.

Windows were broken, shelves were empty, debris lay strewn across the floors and pavements, and their livelihood had vanished.

The looting of shops in the East Rand has left many employees and businesspeople worried.

Not just about their safety but the wellbeing of their families who they say they will struggle to provide for amid the closure of their respective businesses and places of work.

The manager of Liquor City at Sontonga Mall in Katlehong on the East Rand, Grace Mashaba, told City Press that she didn’t have to think only of her child but her entire family – including her mother, sister and her sister’s child – would be affected, because she was the sole breadwinner.

“When we reported for work this morning, myself and the rest of the staff were met with a shop that had been broken into,” she told City Press.

“The shop is completely empty. They not only took the stock but they took an entire safe as well as computers and our surveillance equipment.”

Mashaba, who has held the managerial position at the place of business since 2011, said providing for her family was currently her main concern.

“It is not just me, but the employees of this business are also worried. We have 13 staff members in total, including myself and a supervisor as well as two security guards,” she said.

“Owners of the business are also scared to reopen because what if this happens again. If they decide to not reopen we are out of work. Our children and entire families then go hungry because they are dependent on us.”

Mashaba added: “This looting is an act of criminality.”

It was a sentiment also expressed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura in Alexandra as he addressed community members on Tuesday.

“This was a calculated act. We are a democratic society; we can’t allow people to take the law into their own hands,” he said.

Mashaba told City Press: “This is the work of our own people, the work of South African criminals who have taken advantage of the situation.”

Like many, Mashaba expressed concern by “the lack of commitment by law enforcement that is not doing enough. Police have failed us. Our minister of police must also do more.”

“If police were doing their job this would not have happened. Things would not have escalated to this point. They really need to do better.”

Following the violence in Pretoria last week, City Press reported that community members, taxi drivers and owners of looted shops agreed that law enforcement was not sufficiently playing its role.

Taxi driver Thabo Sejeke at the time told City Press: “Nothing will ever go right in this country because those entrusted with upholding the law are the main perpetrators and are worse than the very criminals they claim to be hunting.”

Msizi Zulu (26) is a Fidelity security guard who was called to the scene of the looting at Sontonga Mall.

“We were called as back-up and extra security because the guards who were already deployed here were outnumbered and could not handle everything,” he told City Press.

“We are just glad no one was hurt but the damage to the shops and the area is too much. We have to be here day and night and always be alert because with all that is going on we never know when people will strike again.”

Palesa Dlamini
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9609
w:www.citypress.co.za  e: palesa.dlamini@citypress.co.za
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