#UnrestSA: ‘I don’t have maize meal’ – Soweto woman, 75, ponders what the future holds

#UnrestSA: ‘I don’t have maize meal’ – Soweto woman, 75, ponders what the future holds

  • Two elderly Soweto women are feeling the brunt of looting.
  • News24 was in Soweto and witnessed residents pushing packed trollies looted from stores. 
  • The SANDF was in the township and assisted SAPS to disperse the crowds.

“I don’t have maize meal. Where will I buy it?”

These are the questions already lingering in the mind of 75-year-old Maria Mofomme of Zone 3 in Meadowlands, Soweto, as looting continues in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. 

News24 spotted the elderly woman strolling the street with her friend, Mathabo Lydia Seoketsa, 75, not far from Ndofaya Mall. 

The two were heading back to their homes after taking a walk in the streets to see the damage caused by overnight looting at the mall and other stores in the area. 

SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 12: Looting in Meadowl

Looting in Meadowlands on July 12, 2021 in Soweto. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)

Gauteng Premier David Makhura conducted a walkabout at the ransacked Ndofaya Mall on Tuesday, where 10 people were killed in a stampede during a looting spree on Monday night.  

READ | David Makhura admits cops are ‘overstretched’ as Gauteng’s death toll rises to 19

Sirens could still be heard going off inside the mall as Makhura conducted his walkabout.

Neighbouring residents looked on from their yards as the premier walked and explained the extent of the unrest to the media.  

Parts of Soweto, the country’s biggest township, with more than 1.2 million residents, were chaotic on Tuesday as residents continued to help themselves to food, liquor, furniture and building material.

Bara square, near Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Protea Garden Mall in Protea South, Jabulani Mall, Protea Glenn and Sizwe Shopping Centre are among the many centres which have been looted. 

While News24 witnessed scores of happy looters as they pushed their trollies, the two elderly women, on the other hand, had expressions of shock, fear and worry for the future. 

They were already anticipating the ramification of the widespread looting. 

“I don’t have maize meal and sugar at the moment  – and I don’t know when and [how] I will get them… There is [also] no bread, where will I buy it?” a troubled Mofomme asked when she was interviewed. 

Law enforcement agencies were kept busy throughout the day as they attempted to disperse the crowds. 

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department had to use a water cannon at Protea Glen as looters continued even when mop-up operations were under way. 

In Jabulani Mall, police fired rubber bullets at residents, who looked like they were waiting for the coast to clear, so they could go back in and finish what they had started.

The SANDF guarded the centre as some store owners tried to salvage what they could. 

Meanwhile, the road between Protea Glen Mall and Sizwe Shopping Centre was buzzing as scores of motorists filled the boots of their cars with looted items. 

The SANDF’s presence did not stop the violence and theft from happening. 

News24 witnessed the SANDF firing gunshots in the air earlier in the day as they assisted SAPS to disperse a crowd at Supa Store in Dlamini. A woman’s body was discovered in the rubble inside a Cash & Carry store. 

Fuel stations, especially those situated next to the centres, were also affected by the looting.

Motorists were in long queues at the few operating stations as they scrambled for fuel.

Speaking in Mofomme’s yard, the women said they had lived in Zone 3 since 1955. 

They told News24 it was the first time they had witnessed the kind of looting which is currently happening. 

Mofomme said she was scared and distressed and did not know what to do. 

She added that she had asked a family member to find shops in other areas to buy food, but that was unsuccessful because they were closed too – out of fear – because of the unrest.

Mofomme said she pitied the looters because they would also run out of food soon and everyone would be left hungry because all shops would have closed due to the looting. 

Seoketsa said they were scared to take taxis to the CBD to look for food because they heard it was also affected. 

The two elders said they both suffered from chronic high blood pressure and were worried about where they would go for their check-ups because their local clinic was affected by the unrest.

Seoketsa added:

The looted shopping centres also had [general practitioners.] How am I going to get my medication? I am not well at all because I don’t know what we will do. We are confused.

Mofomme said she had no mercy for the people found dead inside the looted shops.

She said, when the mayhem started, she locked her grandchildren inside the yard to avoid them being involved in the chaos.

“We heard of people who have died and I am not worried about them at all. What were they doing there? They were there to steal,” Mofomme said. 

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