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Tembisa businesses suffer as fiery protests turn deadly

Published Aug 1, 2022

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Johannesburg – Protest action over service delivery has erupted in Tembisa in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.

A mob of protesters descended on municipal buildings to voice their dissatisfaction over high rates and electricity. They demanded Ekurhuleni mayor Tania Campbell visit the area for a meeting with them.

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She was due to meet them sometime last week, and the alleged non-attendance angered the community, which led to the protest action.

Parts of Tembisa have been completely shut, with protesters using rocks and burning tyres to barricade the roads.

A municipal building was set on fire as the protests grew violent, and clashes between protesters and members of the Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) ensued.

The protests escalated and two people were confirmed to have been killed, allegedly by members of the EMPD.

Service delivery protests are commonplace in South Africa, and however valid the reasons for such protests, the negative effects and consequences of civil unrest are far-reaching.

Members of the public often stay away from work whenever there is protest action. They fear for their safety, and despite assurances of peaceful protests, prefer not to chance it.

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The effect on businesses is one such consequence, as businesses have to halt trade whenever protests flare up.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Ekurhuleni’s finance MMC, councillor Fanyana Nkosi, spoke about the financial implications of the blockades on trade and businesses in the area.

“Trade being stopped and economic activity being stopped impacts on the City of Ekurhuleni as well in terms of revenue collection,” he said.

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Entrepreneur Bobo Moko, who owns a clothing store, Moko Originals in the Mall of Tembisa, was unable to trade today due to the protest action.

“Two guys whom I work with couldn’t come to work, because the roads were closed so there was no transport. This severely affected the business because I had to cancel a lot of things that I needed to do to and go to the store.”

“But also there are no customers because people stay at home for their safety. Schools have been burnt down, the library has been burnt down and everyone is afraid… They’ve all locked themselves in their homes,” he said.

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The blockades resulted in suppliers being unable to reach the mall to replenish much-needed stock to Bobo’s business and other traders.

“The mall today is dead, it is not as busy as it would be. There aren’t a lot of things coming in.

“Suppliers can’t even come into the mall because the roads are closed. So everything gets delayed. Deliveries have been delayed, I myself was expecting to receive stock today,” Bobo said.

There was a high police presence in Tembisa and skirmishes continued. Police used rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

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