“It is not justifiable that people destroy infrastructure, but what is the government doing?”
It’s a question asked by many after last July’s looting and riots, which caused damage worth millions of rands, destroyed homes and businesses, affected livelihoods, and cost a number of lives.
Dr Mpho Mushadu, from Ndofaya Medical Centre in Meadowlands, Soweto said it destroyed his practice, reports the Sunday Times.
Despite the medical centre being right next door to the Meadowlands police station, it was completely destroyed by the looters, who smashed into the building through walls and ceilings and took everything.
Mushadu said he was at home when the looting and vandalism erupted on the night of 12 July. When he arrived the next morning, he was shocked by the extent of the damage.
“We are inside the mall. Mostly security is handled by the mall, which is anchored by Shoprite … Everything happened in view of the police station. Did anyone go and ask the police who was in charge and how come they looted the mall right here and there was no planning?”
Ten people were reportedly killed during a stampede at the mall that night.
“It was like a war zone. They took everything, including medical equipment,” said Mushadu, adding that specialised devices, such as an ultrasound, diathermy machine and surgical instruments, were also stolen.
“They took the tables, the chairs and wheelchairs. There was nothing left. The walls were broken, the doors were broken.”
Rebuilding the medical centre was like starting a whole new practice, he said.
“What also helped was Shoprite wanted to get back to business. They were in and it was easier for us to rebuild and start working,” he said.
But restoring his business meant dipping into his savings. If he had waited for the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) to pay out, it would have meant more delays.
“We had to use money from our own pockets and rebuild as soon as possible. It (cost) more than half a million rands to rebuild the practice,” Mushadu said.
The looting left a large dent in his finances and he had to continue paying his employees while his practice was closed. During this time, he saw his longtime patients at a nearby pharmacy.
Business is slowly returning to normal, but Mushadu is still feeling the financial pinch of the looting.
“Staff had to get their bonuses late. The unrest happened in July, and (in) August and September we were building. When we started getting back it was almost December, so I had to postpone their bonuses to early this year,” he said.
“Mindsets need to change. I don’t know whether it’s people frustrated with the high unemployment rate – young people sitting at home doing nothing. What must they do? They will do crime as they need money.
“It is not justifiable that people destroy infrastructure, but what are we doing? What is the government doing?