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WATCH | 'Nothing can get us down if we work together': Prayer warriors unite at looted malls in Gauteng

19 July 2021 - 14:17 By iavan pijoos
At The Glen Shopping Centre on Sunday, scores of people gathered to sing a hymn and the national anthem.
At The Glen Shopping Centre on Sunday, scores of people gathered to sing a hymn and the national anthem.
Image: The Glen Shopping Centre

Gospel songs and prayer have become a rallying force behind efforts to rebuild malls and shopping centres trashed by looters in Gauteng.

Prayer warriors gathered to pray and worship at Evaton Mall in Emfuleni and The Glen Shopping Centre in Johannesburg South to quell tensions.  

At the Glen Shopping Centre on Sunday, scores of people and staff gathered to sing How Great is our God and the national anthem.

“We have lived through a tumultuous time last week. Amid everything, people feel overwhelmed and uncertain,” said marketing manager Prianka Singh.

“This has had a beautiful impact and it was phenomenal to see everyone joining in song and unity, showcasing our resilience as a rainbow nation and acting as a beacon of hope.

“We are grateful to our community, customers, tenants and staff for being evidence that #WeWillRise together.” 

Last Wednesday, just two days after Evaton Mall was hit by sporadic looting and destruction, volunteers from all over united to help clean up the retail centre.

About 200 volunteers arrived in overalls, armed with rakes, brooms and black bags to help with mop-up operations.

“The response from the community has really proved to be a shining example of how people working together can be an amazing force for good and positivity,” said Kelly Carmichael, a property asset manager at Fortress REIT, the JSE-listed entity that owns the mall.

“It just shows how something beautiful can emerge from something tragic thanks to the true heart and love shown by the tenants and staff from Evaton Mall who have worked around the clock to get us back up and running as soon as possible. The real story here is one of hope that can inspire both the community and the country.”

Centre manager Joseph Mashebane, who led the mop-up operations, praised the community and ward councillor Abel Seshauke for their unwavering efforts.

“Seshauke has been a pillar of strength for us at Evaton and our relationship with him is as strong as ever. He has shown true leadership by setting an example for others in the community to follow,” he said.

Carmichael said they hoped to have the mall operational in four to seven weeks’ time.

“It was the volunteers that really helped break through the barrier of what seemed like an impossible task of cleaning up in the wake of the unrest by showing that together, by joining hands, we could get through this and move forward.

“The sooner we get up and running again, the sooner we will be able to demonstrate the spirit and resilience of this community. Nothing can get us down if we work together.”

Thanks to our amazing people, our mall is coming alive with prayer and song❤️ These are our mall tenants and staff who...

Posted by Evaton Mall on Saturday, July 17, 2021

Mashebane said they looked forward to restoring the mall to its “former glory”.

“We are really looking forward to seeing the reborn Evaton Mall [and] welcoming back our community again.”