Durban mayor condemns looting of shops

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Durban - Durban Mayor, Councillor Obed Mlaba, has strongly condemned the criminal behaviour of members of the Unemployed People's Movement who looted shops in the city centre on Wednesday.

"Notwithstanding the constitutional right of people to strike and the plight faced by the unemployed, the looting of shops can not be justified," said the mayor, in a statement on Thursday.

"We are disturbed by the movement's criminal activity. These are purely criminal deeds and they can never be tolerated."

According to reports, a group of about 100 people looted the Shoprite and Pick n Pay stores on Dr Pixley KaSeme Street. The group allegedly took chicken, groceries and other items without paying for them until the police arrived.

A number of the movement's members were arrested.

Councillor Mlaba said: "I have asked the police to investigate this criminal activity and bring the people who were involved to book. The organisers of this march should be equally held liable."

The Unemployed People's Movement handed a memorandum to the eThekwini Municipality recently, demanding that they be given basic income grants.

"We want to set the record straight that the municipality does not provide the unemployment grants, and this is a function of the national government," said the mayor, who added that the memorandum had been forwarded to the relevant department.

He explained that if government took the decision to give the unemployed grants, there would be a long process that needs to be followed before the act could be passed. "So it can not be done within two weeks" Mr Mlaba said.

"I would like to appeal to everyone to distance themselves from this unruly behaviour. There are better ways of voicing demands than resorting to criminal actions."