'Count me In': How communities are using Facebook & WhatsApp to help rebuild SA

Rebuild SA, a Facebook group,was started on Tuesday as members of the national army, police, security companies and civilians try and restore law and order in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Firefighters extinguish a building following riots in Alexandra on 12 July 2021. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - 'How can I help?' 'Where and when are we meeting?' 'I can offer material'. These are some of the posts popping up on various Facebook and WhatsApp groups where dedicated citizens are rallying each other to help rebuild from the ashes and carnage of the last two days.

One such group is Rebuild SA, a Facebook group started on Tuesday as members of the national army, police, security companies and civilians try and restore law and order in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

By Tuesday evening, it had around 2,000 members.

At the latest count, more than 45 people have died as mobs target shops, businesses, and trucks in various parts. Ten of those dead were killed in one stampede at Ndofaya Mall in Mamelodi on Monday night.

Hundreds have been arrested and government and the business sector were still counting the losses, which was likely to run into billions.

"I'm in Pietermaritzburg I would love to assist with cleaning up our town and surrounding shops in Pietermaritzburg town," posted Mzo Sosiba in Rebuild SA.

"Hi everyone, Hope you are all well and safe. I am unable to assist during the week due to work constraints but happy to assist businesses with admin and any paperwork needed to get back on their feet - I can do this virtually so businesses can be anywhere. Welcome to DM me and I can see how best to assist you," said Brenna Leigh Robertson.

"Hi, I’m based in Germiston. Lucky enough to have a full-time job. Would love to donate towards cleaning funds or any financial needs. If there is a donation option, please let me know," offered Carla Verster.

Others have come forward with offers for donations for those who may be in need of essentials as shops remained closed until further notice.

Others were forming WhatsApp groups to better organise themselves in their immediate surroundings.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, many communities who had witnessed the deep impact that the looting and property destruction had on the local economies and livelihoods in other areas, have resolved to form street committees to stand against any potential threats.

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