Scores of Alexandra residents stood up to be counted for a clean-up campaign at the Pan Africa Shopping Centre on Wednesday.
This follows last week’s extensive vandalism and destruction of property that saw shops being looted and burnt during the unrest sparked by the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.
About two hundred people showed up at the mall from the early hours of the morning and made an effort to clear the rubble and burnt carcass inside the destroyed shops. The residents were people from churches around the area, unemployed youth and pensioners who were each given a broom and refuse bag on entry.
None of those City Press spoke to admitted to having been part of the looting spree last week but felt that the incidents spat in the face of township investment.
“The looting was a disgrace, so I am here to show my support against lawlessness, putting actions where my mouth is. This will show that not every resident of Alex was involved in the looting last week,” said Mpho Ndlovu, a 34-year-old truck driver.
He added that the looting spree increased prospects of joblessness, especially for people living in the township. “Most of the people who worked here are residents of Alexandra, so you can imagine the damage that was done to their livelihoods.”
Magrette Sibeko (63) said she was also appalled by what happened to the shopping centre and surrounding stores. “Hopefully, the mall will return to normal as soon as possible, because we are really struggling. We have to travel long distances for basic foods. So I am here to also show my support and help get the mall back to its original state.”
She added that her daughter, who was also part of the cleaning campaign, worked as a cashier in one of the shops. “Things are really bad. We have to rely on the kota business we have at home to survive. I really hope that her job will be there when things are restored.”
According to a News24 report, the department of small business development was also working towards assisting small businesses that had been hit by looters. Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed this during a media briefing on Tuesday.
ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, who was set to be part of the clean-up campaign and also address the cleaners, did not show up.