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Business chamber slams razing of Alexandra shops in looting

The organisation claims the destruction is not just due to criminality.

More than 40 small businesses, including grocery shops and a liquor store, were looted and burnt down in Alexandra township last week in the riots.

South African-owned shops and properties were also destroyed, leaving the business community devastated.

The Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes the events of last week were not just criminally motivated, but were also caused by inequality, unemployment and lack of job creation.

The chamber’s Patrick Baloyi said yesterday: “There is a need now more than ever for government, the private sector and civil society to collaborate and streamline efforts to deal with the challenges.”

Baloyi said the chamber’s priority was to promote entrepreneurship, in collaboration with corporates, to stimulate economic activity and create an environment conducive for job creation.

He said 45 shops were hit, at least five people died and several others were injured.

“This has grave consequences not only for local businesses but for the people who rely on these shops.

“How are we going to improve the situation in Alex if we are destroying our entrepreneurs, the backbone of the economy in Alex,” asked an angry Baloyi.

The Pan Africa Shopping Centre was also set alight after the shops were looted.

Alexandra police station spokesperson Captain Stephen Malatji said 12 people were charged with public violence. Two bodies were found in stores looted on Monday night near the Pan Africa centre and another was found nearby.

One solution the chamber proposed was for Frankenwald Estate, a vacant piece of land near Marlboro Gautrain station, to be used to develop low-cost houses and education facilities.

The site, given to Wits University by British mining magnate Sir Alfred Beit in 1905 to be used for “education in perpetuity”, has been vacant for more than 100 years. Baloyi proposed Wits work with residents to develop businesses there.

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