DURBAN - The China Mall protest that saw hundreds of protesters blocking off Inanda Road demanding employment at the mega shopping centre is a sign that poor people are ready to resort to desperate measures to get jobs.
This is according to experts, who also believe the recent spate of protests have been fuelled by desperate and unemployed residents.
Residents from neighbouring suburbs were yesterday unable to find alternate routes to work as piles of burning debris lined the main roads.
The day shift supervisor at the mall, Atabakutuba Mousa-Moise, said that last week they received threats about a protest planned for the area. During the Springfield protest, a China Mall employee plunged to her death as she was allegedly trying to get away from a mob of protesters who were trying to gain access to the premises.
Rescue Care spokesperson Garrith Jamieson said the woman, believed to be 45-years-old, had fallen through a perspex part of the ceiling.
“She fell approximately three metres and sustained major injuries. There was nothing that paramedics could do for her and she was declared dead,” he said.
The woman had only recently been employed at the centre.
On Sunday, a 22-year-old man was shot in the neck and two others were rushed to hospital after about 100 people attacked tuck shops in Kenville, Greenwood Park.
According to KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, tuck shops were looted and burnt by protesters.
“Passing vehicles were also stoned and damaged. Two counts of attempted murder, murder and public violence were opened at Greenwood Park police station for investigation,” Zwane said.
Debt Rescue chief executive officer Neil Roets said that the country was in a difficult situation.
“Consumers are struggling. We have seen an increase in the prices of petrol and electricity, and this impacts the costs of various other basics,” he said.
Roets said this was exacerbated by job losses.
“The unemployment rate is very high. The more people struggle, the more businesses struggle. Unemployment figures are just growing and it is not going to get better any time soon,” he said.
Political analyst Imraan Buccus said it was a worrying situation, adding that the growing gap between the rich and the poor was unsustainable.
“We also have a problem where the middle class is starting to recede by using private schools and private security, thereby disconnecting themselves from the poor. The poor are undergoing serious problems with lack of water, sanitation and housing. The protests are not surprising,” he said.
Buccus said as elections loomed, this was an opportune time for protesters to “get the most” of those seeking a place in office.
“South Africa currently sees an average of 5600 protests annually and this will not change as we get closer to May8,” he said.
Buccus said the escalation in the level of violence during protests was worrisome.