Although Vodacom Group and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at national level have reportedly buried the hatchet over what could be seen as the cause of alleged incited violence at the mobile service provider’s stores on Sunday, the party’s erstwhile coalition partner-turned-nemesis in Limpopo would not rest until justice is served.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province and at municipal level has expressed determination to see the culprits brought to book. In a media statement forwarded at the time of going to press a DA councillor serving on Polokwane Municipal Council, Tiny Chidi, called for the suspension of an EFF councillor on Polokwane Municipal Council following the weekend incident. She said the DA has written to the Speaker of Polokwane Municipality, Mariri Ralefatane to summon the councillor to appear before the Ethics Committee for allegedly being an accessory to a crime which contravened the Code of Conduct for Councillors as outlined in the Municipal Systems Act. The name of the councillor is being withheld. She further claimed that the councillor allegedly used his vehicle to transport EFF members to the mall and was suspected of participating in vandalising the cell phone service provider’s store on the weekend.
She told Polokwane Observer evidence contained in camera footage of the weekend’s occurrence linking him to a vehicle of which the visible registration number coincided with his information.
Shortly after the attack DA Provincial Leader Jacques Smalle issued a media alert about the intended institution of charges with Polokwane Police the next morning. Although the party in Limpopo sent out a statement to that effect after Smalle’s early morning visit to the station, he confirmed to Polokwane Observer that he added a charge of accessory to crime in the light of a malicious damage to property case already having been registered at the time. The charge had been registered against the driver of the vehicle that transported the suspects to the mall, he explained.
In addressing the media at the Police station, he ensured that the DA would keep a tab on investigations and would like to see arrests made soonest. “There is clear evidence of people being transported to the crime scene. Clear evidence of those people participating in the crime exists and those people must be charged and put in jail. We want to see results,” he said. Smalle estimated a total of R500 000 of damages to the store.
EFF Limpopo Provincial Chairperson Jossey Buthane informed Polokwane Observer that they didn’t have any knowledge of the incident and said their members had not been involved in the incident either. He indicated that the suspects wearing party T-shirts cast aspersions on the EFF and that anyone could have put on an EFF-branded T-shirt. “Not everyone wearing an ANC, DA or EFF T-shirt belongs to those organisations.” He concluded saying they were happy that an amicable solution has been reached between Vodacom and the EFF.
The incident has left multiple shoppers and staff of the vandalised Vodacom store visibly traumatised. A couple who was in the shop when the incident took place anonymously related their experience to Polokwane Observer. “I just paid for my new 4G-card when a group of men dressed in red T-shirts and caps entered the store and started to turn over the desks and cabinets without saying a word. I started to take pictures when one of the staff members ushered my wife and myself into a storeroom with some other staff members and members of the public,” explained the husband.
“After a while a staff member directed us to another storeroom more to the back of the shop and the door was locked from the inside until the intruders had left. Nobody was hurt, but my blood pressure just spiked,” the man said. He commended the staff of the shop for their professional handling of the situation. Another eyewitness, who also wished to remain anonymous, said she was in the store but left with her two children just before the suspects stormed in. “My husband remained behind but was not hurt during the ordeal. Luckily I left the store with my children who would have been terribly traumatised if they had to experience the barbaric behaviour of the suspects,” she said.
Provincial Police Spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe said a case of malicious damage to property has been registered after Sunday’s incident. He confirmed that an unknown total of suspects stormed and vandalised the shop. No arrests have been made as yet.
Spokesperson for Vodacom Limpopo Region, Risana Khosa, referred enquiries to Vodacom Regional Executive Imraan Khan who couldn’t be reached for comment.
Mall of the North’s management condemned the incident. and did not want to elaborate due to the sensitivity of Police investigations.
Story: YOLANDE NEL