The 75-year-old shop was looted and then burnt last week when the wave of the apparent xenophobic attacks swept through the Joburg township. Two charred bodies were later discovered inside the shop in the aftermath. They are yet to be identified. The incident has caused a lot of distress to the Seedat family.
The late Mohamed Amojee Seedat had established the shop in the height of the apartheid regime. His granddaughter, school principal Tahera, and her father Ebrahim spoke to The Star about the devastation. Ebrahim said his brother Goolam didn’t have any other businesses.
Ebrahim said he got a call from the owner of the neighbouring store who lives in the back quarters of his shop that people were attempting to loot his shop.
“He called me at around 9pm that night. After a back and forth where police would come and they (looters) would leave we thought all was over. It was at around 1am I got another call telling me that about 150 people were looting the store,” he said
He said they had no idea the shop had burnt down until around 7am the next morning.
According to Seedat, on one occasion the women of the township blocked a mob trying to loot the store. But their efforts could not prevent the destruction.
Now nine employees and several casual workers are jobless while the family tries to figure out their future.
“Some of the people have been working at the store for over 20 years,” said Tahera.
What was once a place that fed many families, gave bursaries and donations and kept youth busy with piece jobs during school holidays has now been reduced to rubble.
Tahera said her father and uncle might not have the energy to start all over again.
“Although uncle Goolam is pondering the idea of opening up the store again, he doesn’t have another source of income,” she said.
Her father is now living with the help of his five children.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said that the identities of the two people who died in the flames were still unknown.
“A murder case is being investigated,” he said.