PMB businessman counts loss of unrest and looting
He started as a street vendor 20 years ago and when Edendale Mall opened 10 years ago he rented a small stall to sell food.
But on Sunday evening, Pietermaritzburg businessman Sabelo Vilakazi saw his three businesses – Capital Legacy, Micro Loans and AfriHerbal Pharmacy – looted and reduced to ashes.
Vilakazi calculated a loss of around R10 million as high-end cash, equipment and furniture were stolen on Sunday evening.
He said he and his staff arrived early Sunday to prepare their Capital Legacy restaurant and bar ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation.
He said they expected the president to announce the reopening of restaurants and that his staff were excited about the prospect of their return to work.
âEveryone came joyfully on Sunday, but the next day everything was in ashes.
âThey stripped everything from my stores. There is nothing left, not even a spoon, âVilakazi said.
He said when he got the terrible call that his stores were being looted he rushed to the scene and to his surprise he also saw people he knew personally who were involved in the looting.
âWhen I got there, I saw people who knew me take stuff out of my store in front of my eyes. They couldn’t care less that I was there.
“They had vans parked there and they would take my industrial machines and load them into their vans.”
He said his biggest loss was the destruction of AfriHerbal, his African herbal pharmacy.
âIt brought me joy and looked like me as a young African entrepreneur to recognize the culture behind our own materials and this store was the first of its kind in a commercial area.
âYou would walk in as if you were going to DisChem. This is how I did it.
The Greater Edendale Mall, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, was completely emptied when looters and rioters attacked it on Sunday evening, shortly after Ramaphosa addressed the nation.
Mall safety supervisor Siphelele Shange said around 1,886 workers, excluding security and cleaners, were employed in the mall but were now unemployed.
âSome were breadwinners, others bought cars and houses that they can’t afford now,â he said.
The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTE), Ravi Pillay, along with other members of the KZN Legislative Assembly and municipal mayors, carried out a monitoring visit to some companies hardest hit by violent protests in uMgungundlovu district this week.
The visit is part of the legislative program which saw members visit various cities in all districts to assess the damage caused.
MEC Pillay said the information gathered during the monitoring visit will be compiled into a report that will influence interventions.
âThe report will inform a political response on the type of programs to be implemented and the budgets to be reorganized. The report must ultimately support a comprehensive government response, âPillay said.