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MBABANE – Property damages caused by some people who participated in pro-democracy protests throughout the week are estimated at approximately E3 billion so far.

This was disclosed last night by Senator Manqoba Khumalo, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade. Khumalo said business property damages that occurred nationwide resulted in 5 000 job losses. He said informal traders and SMEs were affected by the burning of the commercial buildings, which was accompanied by the looting of goods. The minister said the damage was extensive such that business establishments across the country were affected. He said factories, parastatals, sugar mills and those small businesses could not be spared from the arson attacks. Movable assets such as trucks were burnt as well. Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku toured damaged business property in Matsapha yesterday afternoon. He also met some of the property owners who included Lincoln Motsa, the director of OK Stores, whose eight shops were damaged. Masuku was accompanied by Khumalo. Trouble began last week when protesters at Msunduza in Mbabane and Siphofaneni clashed with the police over the delivery of petitions to Mbabane East Inkhundla’s MP Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga and MP Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane.

The security agents implemented an order from the acting prime minister banning the delivery of petitions at various tinkhundla centres. The acting prime minister said he banned the gatherings because of the threat posed by the third wave of COVID-19.
Last Saturday night, the notable casualty was a truck belonging to Shoprite which was extensively burnt. On Monday, the burning of property continued in many parts of the country as shopping complexes and stores such as OK and Buy Cash Hardware were torched. Business Eswatini also condemned the destruction of property, mentioning one liSwati who grew his businesses in public view and took them to greater heights. Other Eswatini owned businesses that were severely burnt include Bandag Tyres, where 100 jobs were reportedly at stake, Buy Cash in Pigg’s Peak. In Nhlangano, a building that houses, among others, OBC Butchery, Mr. Price, Sleep Masters, Galito’s was burnt as well.

notable casualty

The destruction to property occurred all over the country. Roads were inaccessible as the looters vandalised cars. The first notable casualty was Shoprite, whose truck carrying goods last Saturday was set ablaze in what was described as the arguably first unfortunate occurrence on the shores. The situation has seemingly  calmed down after government deployed the army to the streets to ensure order and peace. Government said it might take about 10 years for many of the affected businesses to recover.
In a statement, Lincoln Motsa, the co-director of OK Stores, explained that his businesses suffered a combined loss of E60 million. Motsa said eight of his stores in the country were looted. He said a complement of 500 workers; management team and customers were affected.

The looted and vandalised stores included four OK Stores at Kwaluseni, Mathangeni, Mhlaleni and Logoba. There were two liquor stores that were looted at Kwaluseni and Mathangeni, with two SaveMart stores at Luyengo and Mbikwakhe also vandalised.
Out of these, he said, four stores were set on fire and these were Kwaluseni, Mathangeni, Mhlaleni and Luyengo. The businessman lamented that they were burnt beyond recognition. “Out of these, four (4) were set on fire (Kwaluseni, Mathangeni, Mhlaleni, and Luyengo) with two burning beyond recognition, following these unfortunate incidents,” he said.

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