Several malls around Cape Town shut their doors today amid fears that the riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, sparked by former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration, would spread to the Western Cape.
At least six malls closed including Vangate Mall in Athlone, Town Centre, Westgate Mall and Liberty Promenade in Mitchells Plain, Access Park in Kenilworth and Delft mall.
This follows four days of mayhem in Gauteng and KZN, where dozens of trucks, buildings and businesses have been set alight, vandalised and looted.
Photos and videos of looters running away with shopping trolleys filled with TV sets and stolen loot were shared on social media, while a video of a mall burning went viral.
Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa warning on Sunday night that those behind the anarchy would be arrested and prosecuted, the violence escalated yesterday and at least six people have been killed and over 220 people arrested thus far.
The SA National Defence Force yesterday confirmed they were mobilising for deployment in hotspots to assist police.
In Cape Town, Vangate Mall closed early in the morning and management issued a statement, saying they were taking precautions for the safety of staff and shoppers.
“Due to riots breaking out across the country, as a precautionary measure, all tenants have been urged to discontinue trade with immediate effect,” it said.
“Additional security and riot control are on standby should we be affected by the unrest.
“In the event that we experience any threat to the building, the entrance doors (where applicable) will be closed to the public.”
Liberty Promenade also confirmed their closure via their official Facebook page, citing “ongoing violent protests in and around Mitchells Plain”, although no incidents were reported by police.
Canal Walk posted a statement on social media, stating they will remain open but have deployed extra security measures.
In the afternoon, footage of consumers leaving Westgate Mall in Mitchells Plain circulated on social media.
The centre management confirmed that they’ve received threats: “We informed our customers that the mall was closing because of the protests.”
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi says cops have been placed on high alert and were monitoring several areas.
In Robert Sobukwe Road in Kreefgat, several vehicles were stoned and a truck forced off the road. However, when looters approached the truck, they found it empty.
The violent protest in Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal started on Friday following Zuma’s arrest, amid calls for the government to release him.
Footage and photos show protesters standing off with cops who used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets in attempts to disperse the mobs who were seen burning tyres and throwing stones.
Bus and train services were suspended and businesses shut down, while Sassa also suspended payments at all cash paypoints.
Sassa said due to the unrest, the cash-in-transit industry has notified Sassa that it will not be providing any cash delivery services to Sassa pay points until further notice.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said there have been isolated incidences in the province, but all have so far been successfully brought under control by law enforcement and there have been no reports of looting.
“The Western Cape Government, through the Provincial Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, has been in close contact with the Provincial Police Commissioner, General Thembisile Patekile throughout this period, and I have also had a conversation with him. I am being briefed regularly,” he said.
“I can confirm that the SAPS and other law enforcement officials are on full alert in the Western Cape and remain ready to ensure law and order is maintained, and the rights and livelihoods of our residents are protected.”