Nelson Mandela Foundation says ‘it’s time to rebuild after July’s unrest’
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DURBAN - THE Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Nelson Mandela Foundation conducted an in-loco inspection of several chain stores in the Durban CBD, to assess the extent of damage, on Friday.
Businesses in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were looted and set alight by mobs during unrest and wanton criminality in July.
The foundation visited Shoprite, Woolworths and Ackermans in the Durban CBD and assessed the damage to businesses and properties that were affected by the unrest in eThekwini.
Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Sello Hatang said they were saddened by the recent unrest and they were pained by the loss of jobs, the collapse of businesses, and the damage to property.
Hatang added that the foundation was also in the province to assist families that had been negatively affected owing to job losses.
“This is part of the reconciliation process, aimed at rebuilding the country,” Hatang said.
“We also extended our sincere gratitude to the Durban Chamber of Commerce, for accepting our request to meet with the institution and walk us through the journey of the city, which found itself at the centre of chaos last month,” he added.
Yolanda Cuba, a representative of the board of trustees of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, also represented the board on its site visits.
Durban Chamber of Commerce chief executive Palesa Phili said it had been the most difficult period for the business community.
“It was like a free shopping spree for those looting. They took whatever they wanted, without any distraction. No police visibility whatsoever. The Durban Metro Police were quite overwhelmed. They had no support at all. It will take us many years to rebuild. Livelihoods are at risk,” said Phili.
She added that more than 50 000 street vendors had been affected and were not able to trade during the violent unrest.
“We are working with the city, including the MEC for Safety, to ensure that the threats of planned violence are contained, and no business and the public are affected,” said Phili.
Woolworths’ managers, who requested anonymity, indicated that their store lost more than R30 million in stock, including the cost for repairs. They said there were no job losses among their staff.
The foundation visited many communities and provided much-needed relief to communities in the province.
“Following the July unrest, severe job losses have exacerbated the levels of hunger and food insecurity in KwaZulu-Natal. Emergency relief initiatives remain critical as we collectively work towards rebuilding South Africa,” said Hatang.
While visiting a children’s home in Umkomaas, Hatang reminded the childminders that Madiba once said: “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation.”