eThekwini Municipality vows to assist shattered businesses
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DURBAN - LOOTED businesses will get assistance from eThekwini Municipality as efforts to rebuild vandalised properties begin around the city.
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda led members of the executive committee and the media on a city-wide inspection of businesses and infrastructure that were damaged during the civil unrest which engulfed KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and resulted in mass looting and damage to property.
While addressing the media at Bridge City Mall in KwaMashu, Kaunda thanked community businesses for not considering moving elsewhere despite the challenges.
“We believe that together with all stakeholders, we can rebuild this beautiful city. We acknowledge that many people lost their jobs and we are required to work together to bring things back to normality.”
Kaunda acknowledged that the municipality had failed to act promptly to prevent the looting. He thanked those who took it upon themselves to protect what was left of properties in their communities, but lashed out at the racial tension that played out during the unrest. “We plan to improve and do better in the future. However, we have to denounce elements of racism in areas such as Phoenix, KwaMashu and other areas …
“Tensions must be suppressed; there are no areas in eThekwini reserved for whites or Indians. We must defuse the racial categorisation of our communities so that we may bring our people together.”
Kaunda urged businesses to continue working with the city and committed to assisting those who had requested and applied for assistance from the municipality.
Architect Yosuf Patel from Architects & Urban designers pleaded with the city to intervene to prevent community forums from disrupting rebuilding projects and demanding to be involved in projects. Kaunda replied that the city was working with law enforcement agencies to prevent any disruptions.
Palesa Phili, chief executive at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the business community was hurt and devastated. She said there was insufficient intervention from law enforcement agencies during the riots.
“We are encouraged by the local business community, including CEOs who have come together and are working towards rebuilding our city.”
Local businessman Brian Wright said it would cost between R700 million and R1 billion to fix the damage at Bridge City Mall. Massmart reported a loss of between R1bn and R2bn at its Durban warehouse after it was looted and burnt. The municipality indicated in a preliminary report that it lost more than R20bn from looting and damage to infrastructure.