Eastern Cape taxi bosses vow to stop looters

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Northern area Gqeberha residents came out to protect Cleary Park Shopping Centre on Tuesday. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani, GroundUp)
Northern area Gqeberha residents came out to protect Cleary Park Shopping Centre on Tuesday. (Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani, GroundUp)
  • Eastern Cape residents were on guard against any attempt to create the kind of unrest experienced in KZN.
  • No major incidents of looting were recorded, said Gqeberha police.
  • The regional taxi council said its members would quell any attempt at looting in areas they operate.

Eastern Cape residents in Gqeberha, East London and Makhanda were on Tuesday guarding against any attempt to create the kind of unrest being experienced in neighbouring KwaZulu-Natal, GroundUp reported.

No major incidents of looting were recorded, according to Gqeberha police.

Residents even formed a human shield at one mall.

The regional taxi council said its members would quell any attempt at starting riots and looting in the areas where they operate.

Most shopping malls in Nelson Mandela Bay were operating normally.

Security had been increased.

The Walmer Park Shopping Centre reception said it was business as usual.

Private security guards were visible at the popular Greenacres Shopping Centre.

READ | Communities have been left to fend for themselves, says Steenhuisen amid unrest

Eastern Cape MEC for Community Safety, Weziwe Tikana- Gxotiwe, issued a statement on Monday, saying: "We respect and support the people's right to protest. But we are pleading with our people to be sensible when they embark on any protest.

"We are calling on them not to be drawn into any actions that may destroy their livelihoods and potentially pin the masses of our people into deeper poverty in the aftermath of their actions."

A message – "Eastern Cape Save Our Jobs. We Refuse to Join the Looting. We will defend our Province" – circulated on various social media platforms.

At Zonke Spar, in Motherwell, people were going about their shopping.

Resident Lameck Malaika said: "Looting affects all of us. There will be consequences soon as prices of foodstuffs will soar."

Vusumzi Maswana, from Booysens Park, who is disabled, braved the icy cold to camp outside the Cleary Park Shopping Centre in Gqeberha, along with other residents, members of the Patriotic Alliance, Northern Alliance and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

By 07:00, about 150 people had started patrolling and monitoring the situation at the mall to deter looters.

READ | Embers, desolate warehouses and empty shelves: The toll of violence on critical freight

Maswana said:

My daughter works at Clicks Pharmacy. With her salary, she buys me chronic medication and other household needs. I am here to protect hers and other workers' jobs.

Shrina Padayachy, from Malabar, said: "We decided to stand up after we received a voice note circulating on social media about the potential looting of malls. We will not allow lawlessness to rule in our community.

"If the centre is closed, the taxi industry loses income as well as car guards, hawkers and employees at the mall. This mall is the only financial hub here.

"We will work with security guards, taximen and police, through our social media groups. We will be here and do our own patrols."

Neville Stanley, from Arcadia, said: "We do everything at this shopping centre – Sassa, Home Affairs, banks and many families' salaries come from the jobs at this mall. Looting leaves us in poverty."

Tiphany Harmse, of the Patriotic Alliance, said: "Our province has the highest unemployment rate. This pandemic made the situation worse. In solidarity with our communities, we say no to looting."

Ricardo Tromp, chairperson of the Algoa Taxi Association, said they depend on transporting workers and shoppers to and from the malls.

"We are monitoring all the malls as Santaco encouraged us to protect our malls."

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

Gabs Mtshala, Santaco provincial deputy chairperson, said: "We are calling on all our members and drivers to defend those properties and deal decisively with those disturbing our business.

Mtshala said:

Should we allow malls and businesses to be destroyed and closed, we would lose business and our taxis would be repossessed and will never recover from that.

Ayanda Kota, of the Unemployed People's Movement in Makhanda, posted a message: "As UPM and Makana Citizens Front, we vow to protect our people and our city. No foreign national shops will be looted under our watch. People will not lose jobs under our watch … People are not going to lose their jobs because of Zuma. Foreign shops will not be looted because of Zuma. Voetsek Zuma and his ANC … We hate corruption. We hate it intensely."

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane said: "We are inspired by the campaigns that are led by ordinary people on social media to discourage each other from participating in acts of criminality."

Mount Road police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said there were no reports of social unrest in Gqeberha.

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