Help for victims of looting

Source: Help for victims of looting | The Herald January 21, 2019

Help for victims of looting
Minister Ndlovu

Herald Reporters
GOVERNMENT will find ways to assist businesses restock following widespread looting and destruction of shops during last week’s MDC-Alliance-instigated violent protests, Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu has said.

The intervention comes as South Africa-based Zimbabwean businessman Mr Frank Buyanga pledged to help violence victims in need of medical attention and burial assistance for those who lost relatives.

Speaking during a tour of looted and burnt down shops in Bulawayo’s western suburbs yesterday, Minister Ndlovu said Government was working on modalities to assist affected businesses to restock.

“It was good to appreciate and have a physical feel of what businesses went through and seeing how communities are struggling to buy basic commodities such as mealie-meal, sugar, bread and so forth after the lootings which emanated from violent protests. As Government we are now trying to come up with ways of assisting businesses to restock and we also want to assure our people that as from tomorrow (today), supplies will begin to normalise,” he said.

Minister Ndlovu said he would consult his principals and discuss the modalities of addressing the situation.

“It was important for me to come and see the situation after which I will discuss with my principals. I wish to encourage the people of  Bulawayo that it’s time for the city to show its character and let us not be defined by cowards who are destroying our infrastructure. The character of Bulawayo will be seen by how we pick ourselves up after this. We will be appealing to communities to come together. Brick by brick we shall try to rebuild our city,” he said.

The minister, who was accompanied by his deputy, Cde Raji Modi, as well as Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube, Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe chair Tafadzwa Musarara, Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial leaders and church representatives, expressed shock at the scale of destruction and looting.

He condemned the acts of vandalism and urged police to intensify investigations.

“Looking at the nature of destruction, particularly Choppies Supermarkets, it is clear that it was not random looting, but it was planned and we also noted that some chemicals were used to burn these shops and certainly this requires further investigations. Most of our people just got onto the bandwagon without knowing that this was planned arson and precisely this is terrorism,” said Minister Ndlovu.

He expressed also concern over the pricing system by shops and urged businesses to be sensitive to the plight of consumers. The minister, however, said the destruction of property and looting was not a solution to the problems facing the country.

“We have been quite clear that we are concerned about the level of pricing and manner in which business people are pricing their products. But overall the response to that is not to destroy property and there is no excuse for what happened. We are putting mechanisms, working together with the business community, to come up with a verified cost structure where they can also tap into that kind of knowledge of pricing their products,” he said.

Business people who spoke to our Bulawayo Bureau said they were struggling to cope in the aftermath of the looting.

Mr Hendrick Boshoff, who owns Bulateke Milling Company in Kelvin North industrial area, said he lost goods valued at $100 000 to looters.

“They broke into my premises while I was on a business trip in Mozambique and went away with beef equivalent to six full carcasses, 40 tonnes of mealie meal, generators, compressors and laptops, among other items,” he said.

Ms Sothini Dube, who operates SD Supermarket in Luveve, said: “I lost everything that was in stock and am virtually grounded. Right now I am selling wares from my car because the shelves were destroyed and it will take time for me to recover financially.”

Ms Plaxedes Nyoni, a manager at Cover Supermarket in Pumula East, said the mob broke into their shop and looted fridges and groceries worth about $50 000.

Ms Cynthia Ngwenya, who operated a small grocery shop in the same suburb, said she had been emotionally drained after losing all her stock.

“I am one of the female entrepreneurs who had just found my feet, but sadly people came to my small shop and looted everything. I am now selling from the veranda because the shop was vandalised and it requires lots of money to repair the damages,” she said.

In Harare, victims of the violent demonstrations said they were still counting their losses.

Mr Lawrence Chirinda, who owns a cellphone shop at Machipisa Shopping Centre in Highfield, said he was now grounded after rogue demonstrators looted everything in his shop.

“All my cellphones and other electrical gadgets valued at $3 600 were looted when the demonstrators broke into my shop on Monday afternoon.

“The country’s security organs should react quickly to such criminal activities because we are losing a lot each time such demonstrations occur,” Mr Chirinda said.

He said rogue elements should be given custodial sentences to remove from society because their actions were evil and uncalled for.

“What boggles the mind is that the so-called demonstrators diverted their attention from the roads into our shops, a clear indication that their plan was to destroy, steal and cause havoc in the country,” he said.

Another victim, Mr Goshen Ruoko, who sells satellite decoders and television sets at the same shopping centre, said the demonstration was meant to bring more harm than good to the business community.

He said Government should enact laws for lengthy custodial sentences.

“I think these demos are being spearheaded by criminals with an agenda of stealing, looting and tarnishing the country’s image.

“If they were demonstrating against fuel prices then why were they attacking our shops, looting and destroying our property?” he said.

Mr Ruoko said property valued at $1 600 was looted in his shop and nothing has been recovered.

“What baffles me is that the demonstrators ended up attacking our shops as if we are exempted from the current economic woes when we are facing the same predicament,” he said.

Meanwhile, African Medallion Group (AMG), owned by Mr Buyanga, said they were deeply saddened by the three-day violent protests and had launched a humanitarian programme to help victims of the violence.

In an interview, Mr Buyanga said he was saddened by the violence that took place in “our beloved nation of Zimbabwe” and would do something to help.

In a statement, AMG chair Ms Estee Mamman said: “AMG management has taken urgent steps to expedite setting up of its humanitarian aid department. Our department is ready to assist those that have been affected by the violence.

“We urge those affected, those needing medical attention due to sustaining severe injuries and those who have lost their loved ones and require burial assistance, to send an email to our Humanitarian Aid Department which is on standby and ready to assist.”

Ms Mamman added: “We believe the entire community shares the same sentiments as AMG — the utmost yearning that peace prevails in the nation of Zimbabwe. AMG is strongly against the violence that occurred. It is in the same spirit that we urge the people of Zimbabwe to strive for peace and unity during these troubled times.”

Last year Mr Buyanga provided nearly $35 million to procure and deliver fuel, pharmaceuticals and other products that are in short supply. This came after Government granted AMG the permission to do so following its request to assist.