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Call for calm after chaos

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"To close doors for two days is a huge loss for business owners..."

Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

AS THE city continues to reel in shock following two days of unprecedented violent looting and the destruction of private and public property, the call yesterday from all quarters was for calm.

Unrest and destruction erupted in Greenpoint, Galeshewe and Homevale when tuck shops and liquor stores were ransacked by looters over the weekend.

Businesses in the CBD were forced to close their doors in fear of also being looted.

The president of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce (Nocci), Marie Parsons, pointed out that the closures were costly for local businesses.

“Businesses had to be closed for two days that costs businesses a lot of money. We understand that it is the democratic right of people to protest but businesses also have the democratic right to conduct their business. Businesses cannot be held hostage due to protests,” said Parsons.

“To close doors for two days is a huge loss for business owners. We understand the concerns of the people and we share in those concerns as it also affects businesses.

“Some people have, however, lost focus of the problem at hand. The problem is with the municipality why do businesses have to be targeted due to that?”

One of the organisers of the march and chairperson of Wanya Tsotsi, Pantsi Obusitse, condemned the looting and said that was not the mission of the march.

“This situation has now erupted into a criminal matter which we are not involved in. We also cannot hold any further meetings with community members as we have been interdicted by the Sol Plaatje Municipality chief financial officer (CFO) and municipal manager,” said Obusitse.

“We have been using social media to call for calm. People need to refrain from further disruptions and criminal activities. Schools need to open and businesses need to operate as normal this week.

“We are crime fighters and not involved in any criminal activities.”

The spokesperson for Azapo, Tebogo Maarman, said that urgent political intervention was required.

“It is now common knowledge that the peaceful protest that was planned for July 12 has taken a direction that has nothing to do with the original purpose of the community protest. Azapo wishes to condemn in the strongest terms possible the unfolding acts of destruction and looting of private property. We equally condemn the destruction of public property. The destruction of property was not part of the original purpose and it should be condemned by all,” said Maarman.

“However, we also express our concern with what seems to be a calculated programme to discredit the community protest by, among others, engaging in or mobilising desperate young people to engage in acts of looting and destruction.”

Maarman also accused local political leaders of ignoring the seriousness of the matter.

“In spite of the protests in Galeshewe making national news, we have not seen any decisive intervention or visible presence of the top political leadership of the Northern Cape government. They seem to have other priorities.

“The situation has reached crisis point and, as such, it requires urgent and extraordinary intervention. Azapo therefore calls on the leadership of all credible community, political and religious organisations to come together and agree on practical steps that must be taken to restore the situation to normality.”

The spokesperson for the EFF in Frances Baard, Seipati Bogosi, also condemned the incidents.

“The EFF rejects the burning of public recreational facilities as this will further deepen slow service delivery. The EFF believes that all of this could have been avoided if there were honest and accountable leaders in the ANC-led municipality,” said Bogosi.

The provincial leader of the DA, Andrew Louw, accused the ANC provincial chairperson, Zamani Saul, of protecting the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, the municipal mayor and the CFO.

“There is a glaring absence of ANC provincial chairperson Zamani Saul in directly addressing the Sol Plaatje protest crisis from a political viewpoint. The DA suspects that mayor Mangaliso Matika, municipal manager (MM) Goolam Akharwary and chief financial officer Lydia Mahloko are being protected by Saul, who himself is in arrears for an amount of R121 000, but unlike normal residents has not had his electricity cut,” said Louw.

“Clearly there is a circle of protection amongst Saul and Sol elites. Placing the CFO and MM on leave is a soft response to the dire consequences being experienced by Kimberley residents and it also completely ignores the head honcho, mayor Matika.

“All this destruction and suffering could have been avoided by a caring and present government, that at all times practises transparency and puts the concerns and needs of the people whom its serves first.”