Counting the Costs: Small businesses say suffered most during North West riots

Several shops have fallen victim to violent protests in Mahikeng over the past four days.

Residents in the township of Seweding near Mahikeng protest for the removal of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo on 20 April 2018. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

MAHIKENG – As the African National Congress (ANC) contemplates whether North-West Premier Supra Mahumapelo should resign, small business owners who had their shops burned or looted are pondering their future.

Several shops have fallen victim to violent protests in Mahikeng over the past four days.

The police have been keeping a heavy presence in the area.

Nedgos Abbe witnessed his shop going up in flames, leaving him with nothing but the clothes on his back.

He says he has nowhere to sleep and resorted to seeking refuge at a local mosque.

“Imagine, I don’t have money to buy anything right now because my clothes, my passport, everything, I’ve lost them. It’s bad.”

There are others like Abbe who had their shops looted.

He says he and his friends do not know how they will recover from the ordeal.

“I’ve lost everything. I don’t know how you can help us, that’s why I’m doing this interview.”

Both President Cyril Ramaphosa and opposition leader Mmusi Maimane have visited the area pleading for calm.

Meanwhile, the South African Community Party (SACP) in the North West has reiterated its stance that the ANC should recall Mahumapelo.

The alliance partner said its giving the ANC time to reflect and hopefully to come to the decision of sacking the premier.

Violent protests have erupted in the province, particularly in Mahikeng, where several vehicles and properties were destroyed.

The SACP said it’s holding an assessment meeting to discuss some of the issues which featured in Friday’s meeting, where Ramaphosa and other ANC leaders were in attendance.

The SACP’s Madoda Sombatha said recalling Premier Mahumapelo is the only logical move that the ANC can make.

He said by so doing, communities will regain confidence in the ANC ahead of the elections next year.

“The issue of the premier and the issue of service delivery are matters that have now been formally raised by the community.”

He says there is a need to re-establish proper governance in the North West.

“Government is the government of the people by the people.”

Sombatha says the outcome of the SACP’s provincial executive committee meeting on Saturday will be communicated to the ANC.