The opening of a new shopping plaza in Khayelitsha on Tuesday saw clashed between shoppers and protestors demanding jobs at the new centre in Site C.
A group of about 50 protestors gathered outside the new shopping centre from as early as 6am brandishing a list of people in the immediate area they demanded be given jobs.
The protesters said the centre had hired people from outside the area when they should have provided jobs for local residents and claimed those who had received jobs had bribed the ward councillor to get them.
The atmosphere became tense when security guards told the approximately 200 residents who had arrived to shop at the new centre that they would not open the gates until the protestors had dispersed.
The shoppers outside the plaza gate started to shout at protesters, cursing them and accusing them of causing chaos.
The situation deteriorated when Shoprite management started handing out cool drinks to those waiting to shop.
“Ignore the protesters they wasting their time, give us drinks” one resident shouted.
It’s alleged that SiteC residents held a meeting on Monday night to plan the protest.
“All the people working here are from outside. (ward councillor Mlulami Velem) has been playing us, he told our children to submit CV’s at Blue Hall but none of those people were hired, only those who bribed him were given a job,” said one of the protest leaders.
He said when the community met with the management of anchor tenant Shoprite arrangements to hire local residents were agreed upon but had not been honoured.
“We demand to have a list of the people working here because we know they’re not from here,” he said.
A protestor who would only identify herself as Snazo, said she submitted her CV but she never got a call from Shoprite.
“This is not fair, we were told that Shoprite already hired people, but Velem lied, so we continued to apply hoping we will get a job,” said Snazo.
But a number of people working at Shoprite said they live in Site C.
Site C resident Nosive Thwala she had arrived at the new shopping centre to benefit from opening specials and police should chase the protestors away.
“It’s been six hours waiting for the gate to be open, we are getting tired,” said Thwala.
Velema said the protestors were protesting against him, not Shoprite.
“They want to drag my name down because they’re jealous that I am a councillor. Shoprite did everything right, they gave us a box for people to submitted their CV’s. Some were called and they got a job, not everyone was going to be hired,” he said.
The opening of the centre was delayed again yesterday (subs: Wed) due to a burst waterpipe resulting in the Fire Chief not being able to issue a clearance certificate, said Shoprite spokesperson Jennifer van der Westhuizen. - Nombulelo Damba