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Post - 2021-07-21

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Family stoned while f leeing from looters

NEWS

NIKITA CHINIAH nikita.chiniah@inl.co.za

A BUILDING in Harcombe Gardens in Bonela was looted and set alight last Monday. The property had a doctor's surgery, tavern, paint and tyre and wheel alignment shops. Six tenants also lived on the premises. The building owner, Anesh Rajbal, 60, who lives a road away, said a neighbour called him to tell him the property was on fire. "We tried to go out but the area was unsafe to travel. My wife Shireen and I were beside ourselves with worry, especially for the tenants. I called the police and the fire department, but we were told they were unable to attend," Rajbal said. He said he and his son owned the tyre and wheel alignment shops. They went to the business premises the next day. “Everything was destroyed. Our businesses and the income generated from the property was our only source of income. We are now left with nothing. If we had to count the total damages of the building, it would amount to close to R1 million. We also pity the other businesses at these premises that lost everything. “We are now helpless and unsure how to move on from this. We do not have insurance to cover the costs. We are angry and sad at the same time. What has taken us years to build was destroyed in a day. “We wish it was just a bad dream, but unfortunately, it is reality. It has taken a lot of hard work and funding and likewise, it is going to take that much to reconstruct this building. “At this moment, we do not know how we are going to rebuild, but we pray a miracle takes place. We yearn to see our building as it was, prior to the looting and it being burnt down,” he said. One of the residents, Tracy Rajbal, said: “My husband Deon and I were watching the CCTV cameras of the looters trying to enter Jabula Hardware, which is on the opposite side of the road. They were unsuccessful, and they then targeted our building. “When our camera was hit, we knew we needed to evacuate the premises. My husband and I, and our 14-year-old son jumped over the wall and into our neighbour’s yard,” she said. She said while doing this, the looters threw stones at them. “After we jumped over the wall, we noticed the blaze. “We could only hear sounds of things bursting,” Rajbal said. She said the protesters then tried to petrol bomb her car. “My husband went to save the car, but they caught him. He pleaded with them to let him go. He eventually got into the car, reversed and drove to safety, while we were with our neighbour,” she said. Rajbal said they were currently living with family. “We lost everything, including our clothing, appliances and important documents. “We invested a lot of money in our home, and we are disheartened that we lost everything,” she said. Rajbal, who also works at her fatherin-law’s tavern on the premises, said she was now unemployed. “Within a day, I lost my home and my job. The entire experience is like a bad dream which constantly plays in our thoughts,” she said. The other tenants were unharmed.

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