Residents say retailer has fenced off pathway to taxi rank
By Joseph Chirume: 20 February 2017
The protest was against a recent decision by the retailer to secure its premises with a perimeter fence which has closed the path used by the residents to get to the taxi rank.
Thomas Marobobo, who was protesting, said, “The police used excessive force … We were very peaceful and no one even provoked them. We did not close the shop. We even allowed shoppers to go into the shop. But the police decided to use rubber bullets.”
He said: “We started our peaceful protest last week on Thursday after negotiations with Zonke Spar management yielded no results. We [had] kindly asked Spar to fence their premises but leave one opening at the back so that people could access other services at the centre without having to walk a long distance.
“Now, we have to go through a disused park when going to the taxi rank … Many people have been robbed in this park since the shop closed the walkway.”
However police spokesperson Constable Mncedi Mbombo gave a different version of events: “Police on Friday used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at Zonke Spar in Motherwell. This was done because the protesters had become violent. They were also affecting the peace of innocent residents who wanted to buy their groceries in the shop. No one was arrested.”
Marobobo appealed to Spar management to reconsider its decision to keep the pathway closed. “We believe that local business owners should discourage crime in our area. … By closing the entrances, the shop is risking the lives of their valid customers. We will continue engaging with Spar even if it means a complete shutdown of the shop.”
A Zonke Spar manager who did not want to identify himself said: “No comment. This is a case of public disorder.”
Published originally on GroundUp.