Two days of Walmer protests cost Port Elizabeth businesses R2.5 million

AUGUST 25, 2015

The violent service delivery protests that were witnessed over two days in Walmer, Port Elizabeth, cost local businesses around R2.5 million, according to a survey conducted by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

"While not all businesses affected by the Walmer protest, which lasted two days and was at its worst on Thursday August 13, responded to a questionnaire sent out by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, the 30 businesses responding to the survey reported a massive R2 421 600 in losses,  the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, said in a statement.

"The majority of the damages were turnover losses totaling R1 391 500, while some businesses also experienced stock losses of R 527 600.

"Damage to property was calculated to be at least R 502 500, with fences and several shop windows needing to be repaired. Many of these businesses were not insured for public violence and would have to foot the repair bills themselves."

The reported damages did not include damages to customers’ vehicles.

One respondent recalls, “Customers’ vehicles were damaged by bricks and stones thrown and an elderly gentleman was pulled out of his bakkie and attacked”.

Businesses that suffered the most

In particular, businesses reliant on daily customers visiting their stores suffered the most in terms of foot count losses during the week of August 13.

No physical injuries were reported by the businesses surveyed, however they reported staff and customers being traumatized and left frightened after the ordeal. Other respondents were frustrated and angry: “I will not be held accountable for my actions if this happens again. I hope that the police take this threat seriously,” was one poignant comment from the survey.

Most of the surveyed businesses reported intimidation of staff and customers with one shop owner threatened in his vehicle outside his store and another who had to flee when protesters ransacked her shop, as she was trying to lock it up in the presence of police officers.

Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler has engaged with the relevant police and municipal authorities

Since the Walmer protest action, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler has engaged with the relevant police and municipal authorities to ensure this type of event is averted at all costs.

“The type of anarchy and criminal element witnesses in the name of a service delivery protest must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The full might of the law must be used to stem this type of lawlessness as it wreaks havoc amongst law-abiding citizens going about their daily routine, as well as, having a huge immediate negative impact on business, its ability to sustain itself in an already tough economic environment and its staff having to face unrelenting intimidation and threats against their right to work.”