Philani Valley Mall still closed five months after looting and vandalism
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Philani Valley Mall has not been rebuilt since looting.
After five months since the civil unrest and looting in July, Philani Valley Mall has still not been rebuilt or opened. The shopping centre is located at Umlazi Y section and is owned by Unity Properties.
Gary Gould, the founder of Unity Properties described the looting that took place at the shopping centre as extremely malicious.
“They pretty much stole all the stock out of all the shops and damaged everything. It was very malicious damage, they didn’t just break open the shop door to get into the shop and steal things in the shop.
“They literally broke every shopfront, they destroyed the lighting, all the cables and broke the basins in the toilets and the taps. So the property has been completely destroyed,” he said.
He estimated that the damage at Philani Valley Mall is around R65 million. Unity Properties has also lost R5 million in rental revenue since July.
Gould said the company received a small interim payment of R5 million from Sasria (South African Special Risk Insurance Association). “It’s not enough to do anything really,” he said.
The businessman accused Sasria of being slow in terms of helping the company. He said he exhausted all avenues in an effort to get them to pay out including emailing them and getting in touch with contacts at the state insurer.
Unity Properties did not receive an explanation from Sasria over the slowness on their claim. “They haven't really given us any reason other than that they have huge amounts of claims and they don't have the staff or man power to process them all,” said Gould.
Prominent tenants at the centre such as Spar, Pep and Debonairs told the property owners that they want Philani Valley mall to open. Smaller tenants said they wouldn't be able to reopen.
“The longer we take to restore and rebuild, the more the tenants are going to actually permanently close because a lot of the smallest tenants relied on those shops, that was their income.
“If you don't have any income for months already it's going to be at least another five months so it will cost them even more so you can't even get income for a year, you need to start making other plans.”
According to Goud the mall’s closure has been devastating for everybody, as locals do not have a mall close by to purchase groceries and have to travel further and pay transport money.
He said Unity Properties has researched solutions and preventative measures should another period of unrest occur after they open and are developing a contingency plan.
“We’ve done a lot of analysis and if something like that happens again it’s very difficult to stop it, we will have some some reaction force, people that can come at short notice in the future with arms,” said Gould.
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