Residents rally around ‘Oom Jabulani’.
Galeshewe residents were shocked by the news that the well-known Jabulani Butchery in the township was destroyed in a fire during the early hours of Friday morning.
Owner of the business, Dingi Mhlongo, said on Sunday that he was woken up on Friday morning at around 3.30 am by a member of the community, who told him the butchery was on fire.
Mhlongo, who does not stay far from the butchery, rushed to the scene, only to realise that it was too late for him to save anything.
He said that the damage was estimated at around R2 million.
“I am devastated, I have lost everything in there,” he said.
“All my important documents like my ID, passport and other documents, as well as cash and equipment, were all destroyed.” He added that the business had been in existence for years.
Mhlongo said he was able to operate from the other side of the building, which he had intended to use as an extention to the current premises.
He started operating from there yesterday in order to sell whatever minimal items he could.
He indicated that according to the preliminary report from the Sol Plaatje Fire Department, the fire was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.
However, Mhlongo is not convinced and added that he had opened a case with the police so that the matter could be investigated further.
“It is not easy for me to say whether I suspect sabotage as I do not know who to suspect,” he stated.
Jabulani Butchery is not only well known in Galeshewe, but is also one of the longest existing black-owned small businesses in the area.
Local residents rallied around Mhlongo, showing their support and indicating that they would stand together and assist in re-building the butchery, which they had relied on to cater for their exact needs, ranging from mogodu (tripe) to afval.
They stated that Mhlongo was well-known in the area as one of the most compassionate businessmen in the city who gave freely to the community.
Fondly referred to as Oom Jabulani, he, according to the residents, “remains the most humble, generous and friendliest of gentlemen to all, including to those who are now in the same generation as his great-grandchildren”.
They pointed out that the butchery often provided the meat for many local orders during big events and social gatherings.
One resident, who stays opposite the shop, estimated that the butchery has been operating for around 20 years.
“We never used to buy meat anywhere else as he always served quality meat. On weekends, people queued for his wors and braai meat. Even my grandchildren know today that we do not support any other business for meat but our own Jabulani Butchery,” said the resident.
Community members, many of whom suspected foul play, called on social media for the culprits to be found and dealt with harshly.
The community, however, remained confident that the business would soon be fully operational again, pointing out that the owner was one of the most astute businesspeople in the city.
“He will be up and running soon,” posted someone on Facebook.
“Ntate Jabulani will rebuild this to even a better business.”