In the same week, the Philani Valley Mall in Umlazi, south of Durban, was looted and destroyed. A group of armed men claiming to be part of a local business forum demanded a security contract from the owners to protect the property.
Gary Gould, a shareholder in the mall – as well as the Dube Village Mall in Inanda, north of Durban, which was also destroyed by looters last week – TimesLIVE told TimesLIVE Tuesday that so-called members of the Business Forum now posed another threat.
“A forum arrived at Philani over the weekend with machine guns. The community helped us clean up the center and they just chased everyone off the premises. The word I got initially was that they would take the property and claim it as theirs. “
But Gould later discovered that the men wanted a security contract.
” Me committed myself to it. They met them this week and they left.
“Two hours later another bunch of machine guns arrived there. We thought they were the same guys, but it seems they’re from a different forum.
“I’m actually too scared to meet you. I really don’t want to have to do business with them.
“My security company said they would be in the meeting too.
” The minute you start any type of business with them you make them successful and legitimize their crime. In the end, you are forced to entertain them to prevent you from losing any more money. ”
Gould said the group claimed they could have prevented the wanton looting and damage to the center, if they would have been on their guard.
“We’re a shopping mall, we don’t want armed people on site, otherwise shoppers could get caught in the crossfire in an incident.”
Gould said, he is unsure. what to do with the “business forums”.
“We need to investigate the damage and speak to our insurance company and then make decisions from there about what we will do.
” I’m trying to organize trauma counseling for my center director, she’s a mess. “
He said that although the forums had not yet visited the Dube Mall, the damage and looting was greater there than in Philani. < / p>
“Our other mall, the Dube Village Mall in Inanda, has been hit harder than Philani in terms of damage and looting. About 40% burned down. The entire Shoprite was destroyed by looting and fire.
“The looters came back there several times, the sprinklers put out the fire, and they came back and started another fire.”
Gould said , Shareholders would have to wait for their insurance to pay for them before repairing and rebuilding.
“We’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for the insurance to pay. At the end of this month we will of course not receive any rental money. We still have to pay our bonds and so on. At this point in time we are unsure what will happen.
“Our teams will assess the damage. It all depends on how much structural damage the fires caused. Of course, if it’s just looting damage, the cost is much lower. With the Dube Mall we are looking for at least R40m for the reconstruction.
“At the moment we have no choice but to do the reconstruction as the malls are not yet completely destroyed. We would lose a lot of money if we wouldn’t rebuild. “