Protests cost Pretoria businesses three days' trade each month: chamber

28 August 2019 - 16:46 By ERNEST MABUZA
Fire fighters in Tshwane extinguish blazes started after a taxi driver was shot dead by an alleged foreign drug dealer.
Fire fighters in Tshwane extinguish blazes started after a taxi driver was shot dead by an alleged foreign drug dealer.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

The Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Wednesday that protests in the Pretoria CBD were taking a high toll on its members.

Businesses were losing money, the chamber said, and some might eventually be forced to relocate.

Chamber CEO Pieter du Toit was speaking after protests in the CBD, which began on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday. Protesters targeted shops near the corner of Brown and Lilian Ngoyi streets, looting them and setting them alight.

The protests were believed to have been sparked after a clash between taxi operators and alleged drug dealers, which led to the fatal shooting of a taxi driver on Tuesday.

Du Toit said it had become the norm in the CBD that businesses lost two to three trading days a month as a result of protests or strikes.

He said the area and buildings targeted by protesters on Wednesday were known for drugs.

“We believe the owners, tenants and managing agents are responsible for the degeneration of that area and they should be named and shamed,” Du Toit said.

He said Pretoria experienced more protests, as it was the seat of government.

A march to the Union Buildings usually began in the CBD, where shops could be looted, Du Toit said.

“We plead with the government to ensure that service delivery is in place and that it should endeavour to address the demands presented by the marchers.”

He said law enforcement was one of the major components to ensure that demonstrations in the city were peaceful and that no vandalism took place.

Municipal metropolitan police departments could work together to ensure that demonstrations were held in a peaceful manner, Du Toit said.

“The damage to businesses costs a lot of money. Eventually business will be forced to relocate elsewhere. Businesses do not have to be in the city. This would not be good for the city. The core of the city must remain.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela said police and the Tshwane metro police had jointly taken control of the situation after dispersing a group of about 3,000 people who barricaded Lilian Ngoyi Street.

He said police recovered some items stolen from shops in the area.