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Employees worried that their jobs are on the line after mass looting in Durban

Community members clean up the Queen Nandi Drive area which was the scene of chaotic mass looting. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

Community members clean up the Queen Nandi Drive area which was the scene of chaotic mass looting. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jul 20, 2021


Durban - EMPLOYEES at several businesses, on Queen Nandi Drive and Springfield Industrial Park, fear that they will lose their jobs, following wanton looting that took place in these industrial nodes last week.

Many of these businesses and industries became the scene of widespread looting and destruction, with mobs ransacking warehouses for several days.

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During a visit by The Mercury yesterday, some warehouses and businesses had started clean-up operations, while others still had their gates locked, as they were assessing the extent of the damage.

According to business owners, some businesses have opted to relocate to other areas, while others were considering shutting down their operations.

An employee from Sedgars Home, a premier store for exclusive luxury furniture, Senzeka Ngcobo said they had been advised that the business would no longer be operating at the Springfield Centre.

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Ngcobo said, even though the company had told them that their jobs were safe, it was still worrying that the only branch in the province was being shut down.

“To be honest, I am scared. I am afraid that I will be unemployed and I won’t have money to support my family. When I came here, I was so shocked and I was in tears when I saw the damage,” she said.

Sedgars Home manager Laurence Naidoo said the stock, worth more than R3.5 million, was looted and the business premises was torched.

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He said, fortunately, their other warehouse was not looted and they would be able to start afresh. However, he said they would be relocating to another area as “they don’t believe that the area was worth investing in anymore.”

“The infrastructure is totally damaged, and the company has decided to close and move to other places which are safer. The owners are currently looking for a new place to trade, in the far north of Durban. There are fears that this might happen again and, with us being next to informal settlements, we are not safe,” said Naidoo.

Sanele Cele, who works at a mechanic’s warehouse, said he was still in the dark about his job in the company.

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He said the company was yet to speak to them, as they were busy with the clean-up operations and calculating the damage.

“I've never been this worried in my life and this is stressing me. At this stage, we don’t know if our jobs are safe or not, because what happened here is bad. They stole almost 90% of the stock and also damaged all the machines we use.

“I don’t even know if I will get paid come month-end, and that worries me more because how am I going to feed my family and pay my debts? This is emotionally draining and makes you not even sleep well at night. The fact that the employers have not said a word about our jobs, is stressful,” he said.

A security guard outside one of the warehouses said only the managers came to observe the damage, adding that management has been communicating with the workers through WhatsApp.

“As you can see, the whole area is like a zombie land, it is like it has never been a business park. Even the people who were just looting and damaging, I don’t think they are proud of what this area has become,” he said.

Another employee, at a paint manufacturing company on Queen Nandi Drive, said they have been advised that they would only get 50% of their salaries at the end of the month.

However, he said they still don’t know what would happen the following month, as the company was wiped clean by looters.

“Half is better than nothing for now. We can’t blame the owners because the damage is too much, and they are also not generating any income, as we are out of business. We can only pray and hope that everything will be back to normal soon,” he said.

The Mercury

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