LOOK: Teaming up to rebuild KZN, residents, taxi associations tackle massive clean-up operation
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DURBAN - COMMUNITIES in KwaZulu-Natal are coming together to clean up areas that have been left devastated by days of sustained looting and arson attacks on shops and other businesses.
Taxi organisations have volunteered to transport communities to malls, industries, and warehouses for free to carry out clean-up operations and said they were committed to putting a stop to the wanton violence and destruction.
The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the province said it was in talks with taxi owners to allow their taxis to transport residents to various affected areas to carry out clean-up operations.
Provincial Santaco spokesperson Sifiso Shangase said the scenes witnessed in the province since last week had been nothing but shameful, disgraceful and damaging to the economy.
He said it was time for each person to stand up and help rebuild the province and the country.
“We are now looking to rebuild the province by making sure that we rebuild all the areas that we operate in. We have engaged taxi owners to transport those interested communities so that they can begin with the clean-ups, and a lot of them are on board,” he said.
Shangase issued a stern warning to looters and those planning to torch businesses and industries, and said they would be defending these with their lives.
“We are also losing a lot and our vehicles are going to be repossessed as we can't pay for them. We can’t allow this to go on. The people who work in these damaged malls, warehouses, and industries are our commuters, and we are not going to sit and watch. This is enough.”
He also urged businesses to assist those who were embarking on clean-up operations in various areas with essentials such as gloves, plastic bags and brooms.
National Taxi Alliance spokesperson Theo Malele said they, too, were looking to transport communities for free so that they could join clean-up operations.
“We are taking part in the restoration and protection of businesses to ensure that the economy doesn’t sink.
“Taxi owners have been urged and many have dispatched their taxis to collect people to clean up malls and firms. We will do everything in accordance with what the community wants to ensure that we return to normal life,” he said.
Addressing the issue of taxis that were seen transporting looted goods in various areas on videos on social media and on TV news, Malele said action would be taken against those who were implicated. “The industry will have to apply internal processes in order to identify those culprits. Once they have been identified, using footage on social media, we will then make sure that we bring the SAPS on board, and they will be arrested accordingly. It is uncalled for and it’s killing the image of the industry.”
Yesterday morning a number of communities in different areas around Durban embarked on clean-up operations.
In the CBD, hundreds of volunteers, including members of the Santaco Durban region, flocked to the city’s streets to kick-start operation “Rebuild SA”.
One of the volunteers in the CBD, Mxolisi Mthethwa, said it was good to see a number of people taking charge and rebuilding the city.
He said he saw a post on social media about the clean-up and decided to join.
Mthethwa, who said he worked at one of the supermarkets in the CBD, said he was hopeful that once the clean-up operations and restoration processes had been completed, that they would be able to return to their normal lives.
“As we are walking down the street in the city, it’s a shame what it has turned out to be. It’s a zombie land. However, we can’t expect the looters to come back and clean up the city. It’s sad, but if we don’t stand up, who will?” he asked.
Vuma FM presenter Jacinta Ngobese, who was among hundreds of people who embarked on a clean-up operation in KwaMashu, said the large turn-out of volunteers showed that many people wanted order to be restored.
“We can complain on social media about what has happened, but if we are not going to take a stand to rebuild, no one will. We need to take action because we have to rebuild the country and make sure that people return to work,” she said.
Members of the community in uMlazi also teamed up yesterday and began sweeping the streets and collecting waste.
The DA’s Bheka Ntuli led the community clean-up, which started with 10 people, but increased to hundreds as many people joined in.
Ntuli said the damage in the township was extensive and he called upon community members to partake in the clean-up campaigns in their neighbourhoods.
“We can’t sit and cry, we have to do something to restore economic hope.
“It started as young people only, but elderly people have also joined, and we will clean our township,” he said.