Hundreds of protesters closed down the Elim Mall on Thursday, 15 October blocking the road to Louis Trichardt in Limpopo with bricks and rubbish, demanding that local people be employed at the mall. Motorists could not get through to the shopping mall or to Elim hospital, and learners could not attend school.
Elim Mall falls under Njhakanjhaka traditional area but is also within reach of Dhavana traditional area. The protesters were mostly from Dhavana.
Walter Mabasa, a community leader from Dhavana, said crime was rife in Elim and most of those responsible were unemployed. “We realised shop owners were hiring friends or relatives who are from outside our area. This should not be the case.”
He said attempts to engage the mall management to hire more people from the area had been unsuccessful. “The mall is not going to open until we meet the owners of this mall,” said Mabasa.
Vicky Muvhali, chairperson of the Njhakanjhaka traditional council, said the council was not aware of the shutdown.
A woman described as the new mall manager said she was not allowed to speak to the media. GroundUp requested the contact details of the mall owner from the manager but she could not provide them.
The closing of the mall has affected some local business people. “I bought this taxi through instalments so if I lose business for a day it means I will not be able to pay my monthly instalments,” said minibus taxi owner Thomas Baloyi.
Tshifiwa Tshilambyane, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall next to the mall, said though she is in support of the shut down she will run at a loss.“I have made a big order for the week but most of my fruit will get rotten as no-one is coming to buy,” she said.