LISTEN | Gwede Mantashe urges people to protect their infrastructure

14 July 2021 - 14:38
A police officer arrests a looter inside a Cambridge Food store in Vosloorus on July 12 2021.
A police officer arrests a looter inside a Cambridge Food store in Vosloorus on July 12 2021.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has urged people to protect their own infrastructure.

“Protect it, it's yours,” he told TimesLIVE, during a visit to the Vosloorus Mall on Gauteng's East Rand.

Mantashe said the working class were being used to “destroy infrastructure that is at their own service”, adding this was a disaster in the making for these battered communities.

“They are going to realise that when this is all over, they will have to travel long distances to buy maize meal instead of walking.”

Hear the minister speaking here:

Repairing the destroyed businesses and malls would take a long time, he added. 

“They will pay a huge price for that,” said Mantashe.

Shortly before the minister arrived, looters and taxi drivers from the Katlehong People's Taxi Association exchanged fire in a five-minute gun battle.

Hundreds of looters had gathered outside the mall.

The mall was ransacked overnight with looters pillaging a butchery, Boxer furniture store and grocery stores.

A taxi association member, armed with a club, said it was anarchy and they would resist.

“These thugs will not destroy our mall,” he said. “Five hundred of our members have deployed throughout Katlehong and Vosloorus to defend the malls.”

Moments later, as looters pointed handguns at taxi association members, two taxi drivers drew handguns and fired over the heads of approaching looters.

“We are ready. We are not going anywhere,” said the driver.

Ekurhuleni metro police tried to defuse the situation and repel looters.

Mantashe, noting that taxi drivers and mall security were assisting metro police units to prevent further looting, said during the anti-apartheid struggle there were self-defence committees on every block and people had been responsible for their own survival.

“If it can develop into that, it will be positive,” he said.

He said it was positive that the violence had been largely limited to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and that the other seven provinces remained intact. 

Once people accepted that destroying infrastructure would cost them jobs, “we will be better off”, Mantashe said.



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