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Post - 2021-07-21

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It’s time to pick up the pieces

NEWS

CHANELLE LUTCHMAN chanelle.lutchman@inl.co.za

NAGINA Amarchand was just a month away from expanding her business at Springfield Park when it was broken into and looted. Amarchand, 57, opened the Frame Edge at the Springfield Retail Centre 22 years ago. Last week, protesters targeted businesses in Springfield Park. Shops at the Value Centre and Retail Centre were also affected. Amarchand said when she heard there were looters on the premises on Tuesday, she did not worry too much. She believed her shop would be safe. “My shop has frames and mirrors and little things compared to the other wholesale and clothing stores around that have more to offer to people. So when security told us protesters arrived, I did not stress too much.” However, later that day, she was told that even her store was looted. “I was shocked. I could not believe it. I put the TV on and watched as they took things from the area. I wanted to immediately go to my shop because I had clients' orders, but I could not leave because the situation was volatile." The following day, her son and husband escorted her to her business. “I was told the area was still volatile, but I wanted to collect my clients' orders. As I walked towards the shop, I saw that my glass doors were broken. I could walk through the glassless door into the shop, but in my distress, I still used the key to unlock the door and enter. "Everything, other than a picture of Sai Baba and a Ganesha agrabathi holder, was destroyed. A R3 000 frame was stamped on, and the heads from Buddha ornaments were chopped off. Papers were scattered. It was terrible. I just sat on the floor, held my head and cried. I repeatedly asked: 'where do I start?'” She said camera equipment that she intended to use when she opened her studio next month was also stolen. Amarchand said she and her family had to flee when guards told them the looters were returning. She said although her shop was partly insured, it will be difficult to pick up the pieces. “Not everything in my store will be replaced, but I still want to rebuild this store for my customers. This business is my passion. I cannot see myself doing anything else.” She said some of her customers had reached out and told her they would continue to support and help her. "I am grateful for that. We lost out a lot during the lockdown last year, and I always remained positive that we would recover. This is another curve ball, but I am positive I will bounce back with time.” She said while she was upset by what happened to her shop, she chose to grow from the experience. “Maybe this means that my business will have a rebirth and come back bigger and better. I am choosing to look at the brighter side. I was one of the shops with the least amount of damage." The centre management did not comment at the time of publication. On Friday, Massmart, which runs Makro, Game, Builders Warehouse, Cambridge and Cash and Carry, released a statement that they would rebuild. According to the statement, 41 of its stores and two distribution centres were looted. It said four of the sites had significant damage from arson. “The full extent of the damage is still being assessed. However, Massmart confirms that the insurance cover in place for such events will minimise losses to the group. We remain encouraged that the overall situation is stabilising as the government deploys additional law enforcement resources and restores order.” Massmart said its immediate priority was to ensure the safety and security of employees and customers and to take practical steps to protect its stores and distribution centre facilities. “This has resulted in the temporary closure of a number of vulnerable stores and facilities over the last few days." Doug Jones, the chief executive of Massmart Wholesale, also released a statement about the looting at Makro stores. “Seeing our stores under attack is heartbreaking for all of us at Makro and Massmart, but while we are angry and sad, at the moment, we are turning our attention to the clean-up, rebuild and reopening of all our stores. We are determined and resolute. We have a rainbow in our name for a reason. “We will draw inspiration and strength from knowing that after the storm, the rainbow points to clearer skies.” A salesperson at a clothing store in Springfield said he would only find out if he still had a job later this week. “For now, we have been told not to panic. We know our store and the stockroom were looted, so there is nothing in there. “We have, however, been told that management is trying to see if they can accommodate us at other stores. “I am scared because I need this job. I initially worked as a call centre agent, but I lost my job last year due to the lockdown. I just got this job about four months ago, so my stress levels are high at the moment.”

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