72 hours of anarchy – McCormick

By Dumisani Hlatswayo

As 2021 is nearing an end, we wanted to recap one of South Africa’s shame that costs the economy a colossal amount of R50bn in July. Over 3,000 shops were thwarted and jobs were lost.

Jason McCormick, CEO of Exemplar REITail Malls, a company that owns Mall Of Tembisa, did an hour-long presentation at the BizNews Investment Conference earlier this month titled ‘72 hours of Anarchy’. He shared a grave detail of how the July unrests affected his company. McCormick starts the story 40 minutes before the unrest. He said he was in Limpopo; on the game reserve. He received the first message that something was brewing. He shared the WhatsApp group messages he was exchanging with his executive team.

On the 10th of July, McCormick’s brother sent a poster that announced that KZN would be shut down on 12 July 2021. “We discounted because we always saw fatigue with this whole Jacob Zuma incarceration. We knew that there was gonna be rumblings, I don’t think we saw what was coming,” he said. Another voice note followed the message at 11:14 am announcing that they would be a “Kathorus shut down” on Monday. On very same Saturday, Mandeni Mall was closed on the north coast of Durban and people started gathering on the street in Alexandra just before midnight.

“By Sunday, we had credible information (40 WhatsApp messages) that Vosloorus, Soweto, Daveyton, Moloto Road, Atteridgeville, Olievenhout, Alexandra, and Mall Of Tembisa were all under threat, and we had to organise,” said McCormick.

“We caught two agitators at Mall Of Tembisa.”

McCormick said things started to take a positive turn when taxi drivers and community members decided to protect the malls. But he also said about Mall Of Tembisa said: “We had 130 guns, ten roof snipers. We were in a state of war. We had blue lights, SANDF, anyone coming for us would’ve made Marikana look like a Sunday school picnic.” a statement that was not taken in a good light by most people.

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