Tembisa community use their bodies as shields to protect mall from looters

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Community members in Tembisa are seen protecting Birch Aches Mall. Photo: Rosetta Msimango/City Press
Community members in Tembisa are seen protecting Birch Aches Mall. Photo: Rosetta Msimango/City Press


Residents from Birch Acres in Tembisa banded together with the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department to protect their community from looters.

“We are here to protect what is ours,” said community members wearing reflective clothing and armed with traditional weapons.

The group, which numbered in the hundreds, took it upon themselves to protect Birch Acres Mall.

Scores of Birch Acres residents used their bodies as shields to barricade the entrance to the mall in an effort to prevent those with intentions to loot from gaining access to what they said was their pride and joy.

Local resident Vincent Ramano was one of those in the forefront of this concerted effort and he told City Press: “These looters have been trying to come and destroy our mall, and we cannot allow that.”

“We have been here since the early hours of the morning and we will stand here and assist the police in anyway possible.”

According to Ramano, those attempting to loot were residents of Phomolong, Vusumuzi, Sophia and surrounding areas.

READ: ANC office not spared in looting spree at Soweto shopping centre

“We have no other mall and these people are trying to destroy it and we will not allow it,” said Ramano, adding that the community had to “fight and protest to have this mall built”.

Another community member who asked to remain anonymous said: “We are here to protect our bottle stores and bakeries ... We are drinkers here and we want to eat and to drink once Covid-19 passes.”

‘We work with police’

Besides the courageous community members, the presence of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on day one of its deployment was emphatically felt as the men and women of the military were quick to clamp down on instances of looting, vandalism and public disturbance.

Crowds in various locations in Johannesburg, including Alexandra, Soweto and Vosloorus, were quickly hampered in their efforts to further loot as the SANDF was quick to respond and disperse them.

“These men have been shooting at us and we are looking for the guns,” a member of the military told City Press, after four men were apprehended near the Pan Africa Shopping Centre in Alexandra on Tuesday afternoon.

The sound of gunshots filled the streets of Alexandra as members of the defence force shot live ammunition into a crowd in an effort to disperse the scores of people who had gathered outside the shopping centre.

READ: Are former state security agents linked to Zuma instigating the violence?

The SANDF also intervened in Soweto where looters left a number of shops and service stations broken and almost completely empty.

On Tuesday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited Ndofaya Mall in Meadowlands, where he revealed that 10 people had died after a stampede at the mall.

Makhura said 19 people in Gauteng had lost their lives at the time.


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