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Shopping malls and retail outlets in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have suffered damage amounting to well over R10 billion over the first few days of unrest, looting and destruction, says Neil Gopal, chief executive of the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa).

Damage ranges from “excessive” to “total collapse” and some property owners may not ever be able to rebuild once the crisis is over.

“Rebuilding may take two years, depending on the extent and size of the centre. Some landlords may, however, decide not to rebuild as the risk is too high for future incidents.”

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While Sapoa has not yet managed to carry out a financial assessment, Gopal estimates that the damage is “well beyond R10bn”. And the further tragedy is that owners have no measures left with which to protect their properties.

“That is why we are appealing to the president to deploy as many soldiers as he can.”

Meanwhile, the eThekwini Economic Development and Planning Committee (ECOD) says the looting and rioting have resulted in GDP loss of more than R20bn.

This includes loss of stock worth more than R1.5bn and damage to property and equipment of R15bn. In addition, the crisis has negatively impacted more than 50 000 informal traders and more than 40 000 businesses – many of which may never come back.

The ECOD also notes that more than 150 000 jobs are at risk and that almost 1.5 million people in the city are at home with no income due to the unrest.

*  bronwyn.fourie@inl.co.za

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