Public Eye (South Africa)

‘Brookside Mall lost millions’

- Lethiwe Makhanya

The destructio­n of Brookside Mall during the July 2021 unrest had a devastatin­g impact on people that relied on their jobs at the shopping centre to support their families according to property manager Duncan Momplé.

He was testifying for the state during the sentencing proceeding­s of Mdumiseni Zuma (36) at the Pietermari­tzburg Regional Court yesterday.

In his evidence, Momplé said he received notificati­on on Sunday, July 11, of a video on social media of someone inciting public violence at the mall.

He then called the mall's head office, which instructed him not to open the mall the following day.

“Later that day, the mall was looted and destroyed,” testified Momplé saying the destructio­n and losses had cost tenants R190 million with Checkers Hyper suffering losses of R150 million.

“The psychologi­cal damage and trauma was intensive. Many employees had to be relocated to other stores much further away. Others unfortunat­ely lost their jobs. I was moved to Durban to work with other managers, but I eventually resigned,” he told the court.

The destructio­n of the Brookside Mall also impacted on around 5000 social grant recipients who used the facility to access their funds. He said the South African Post Office was in the process of opening a branch at the mall didn’t do so at the time due to the violence and arson.

Another witness, Mohammed Khan, who was providing security services at the mall, told the court that at the time, he had about 24 security personnel working for him but had to retrench 22 of his staff because there was no site after the mall was looted and destroyed.

“We had to wait for the mall to be rebuilt again and we only went back to provide our services at the mall in August 2022,” said Khan.

Earlier on the day, Faral Ally submitted a correction­al service supervisio­n report advising that Zuma be given a prison sentence as he was not for correction supervisio­n.

“The case he is facing is serious. It affected a lot of people and many of them lost their jobs. In my opinion, he must be sentenced to imprisonme­nt with no correction­al service supervisio­n.”

He added that during the interview with correction­al services, Zuma did not show remorse and offer any apology for his actions.

Social developmen­t probation officer Zinhle Mqadi submitted an initial report recommendi­ng that Zuma must be sentenced in terms of Section 2761(i) could be sentenced to correction­al supervisio­n as opposed to imprisonme­nt. However, during cross examinatio­n by the state prosecutor, Mqadi did an about turn and recommende­d a direct term of imprisonme­nt.

“I am withdrawin­g that accused can be sentenced under correction­al service supervisio­n because what he did is a life-threatenin­g offence. I agree that my recommenda­tion was wrong,” she testified.

Originally from Inkandla, Mdumiseni

Zuma was convicted in September for inciting public violence related to the incidents of looting and arson that occurred in Pietermari­tzburg in July 2021, in particular the burning of Brookside Mall.

Although he was acquitted on the charge of incitement to commit arson his conviction for incitement to cause public violence was the state’s first successful prosecutio­n against those implicated in the violence that engulfed the country two years ago after the imprisonme­nt of former president Jacob Zuma.

The matter is continuing today.

 ?? ?? Brookside mall instigator Mdumiseni Zuma, 36, appeared in Pietermari­tzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges relating to the July 2021 unrest. Photo: Nqubeko Mbhele
Brookside mall instigator Mdumiseni Zuma, 36, appeared in Pietermari­tzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges relating to the July 2021 unrest. Photo: Nqubeko Mbhele
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