A big cloud of black smoke is whirling up in the air at the back of Zambezi Mall. The mall is not burning down. The source of the black smoke is from one of Spar’s generators. It has been more than two months since the mall has been left in the dark. Literally.
The owners of Zambesi Mall are currently being liquidated, because they owe approximately R11,6 million allegedly to the municipality for electricity. The municipality decided to shut the electricity down on the 15th of February and nothing has been done since.
According to Jan Boshoff, the DA ward councillor, the municipality says they can’t help the tenants because of a certain bylaw. “The bylaw states that a contract can only be held between the owner of the shopping centre and themselves. But now, the owners are being liquidated. The municipality states they can’t enter into a contract with the tenants, because the bylaw that already exists, prohibits it.”
“Usually the municipality and owner enter a contract. The tenants get their power from the owner. The tenants pay the owner and it is the owner’s responsibility to pay the municipality. But somehow, this didn’t happen,” says Boshoff.
Boshoff is concerned about the negative impact it has on the tenants and their workers. “If Zambezi Mall should close, these people will lose their livelihood. A lot of the workers at the Zambesi Superspar live in townships nearby.”
Most of the tenants closed up shop and moved away. Those who have stayed behind had to find their own means of survival.
Four shops decided to share a generator. The owner of the Zambezi hair studio, Adéle de Bruyn, had to get help from her husband (who is an electrician) to install the generator. They had to buy a R52 000 generator (20 KWA) at their own expense. The hair studio shares the generator with The Brooklyn Biltong, Eluri Properties and Excellent Cell & Sound shops. The four shops share the running expenses at R250 per day.
“The generator isn’t supposed to be working [all day long] every day. The alternator broke and we had to fix it,” says De Bruyn.
At first they had nine generators that stood before the shops, but it created such a noise that it became impossible to help their customers. “It also scared our customers away,” says Willie Lubbe, owner of Eluri Properties.
“The electrical costs has increased from R1000 per month to R6000 per month,” says Lubbe. He is even open to getting pre-paid electricity meters.
Boshoff and the tenants has sent a petition to the municipality voicing their concerns. In this they urged the Executive Mayor to urgently intervene and arrange for the provision of pre-paid electricity meters.
Zambezi Mall has become a ghost town especially at night, because the lights cannot function without electricity. The tenants are scared for their safety when they have to shut up every night and walk to their cars. The customers don’t come at night any more.
“This place is a ghost town. We are afraid of our own safety. The alarms can’t work without power. Anybody can come here and break in,” says De Bruyn.
“I am a mother of two young children. I work until five, go pick up my children and then I have to hang around the shops until dark just so I can switch the generator off.”
“The worst part of it is, our customers are blaming us. I have to keep running around, making sure the generator has diesel to work; I have to keep the other three shops happy. And I’m losing customers because of it. Why do I even have a business? Right now it feels like I’m doing the municipality’s work for them,” says De Bruyn.
“I am so fed up about this whole situation. It has been two months. There were three meetings, but nothing ever happens. No one knows what is going on. We keep hearing rumours.”
The only way Boshoff sees a way out of this is to pressure the municipality to review and change the current supply bylaws so it can also accommodate the tenants.
In Chapter 2 of the “Standard electricity supply by-law” regulation 3 states:
“If, in respect of any premises, an applicant, occupier or consumer is not the registered owner of the premises, an agreement in writing between the owner of the premises and the consumer for the rendering of a connection is required beforehand. The agreement reached binds both the consumer and the owner of the premises.”
Several teams battled it out in a trolley race held at Kolonnade Retail Park’s parking lot on the 18th of May. It was part of a project by the final year students of the Inscape Design college to raise funds to upgrade, revamp and assist two charities of their choice.
“The funds will be used to upgrade and “make-over” learning and play areas for children in the care of the Christian Social Council as well as Dynamic Women for Children,” said Biance Lance, Inscape’s marketing coordinator.
Four student and four corporate teams raced against each other in rounds of 10 minutes each. The team who could make the most rounds in 10 minutes were crowned the winners. The public was also invited to compete in teams.
The trolleys were sponsored by local businesses: Mr. Price Home, Sportsmans Warehouse and PicknPay Hyper.
Miss SA, Marilyn Ramos (an ex-student of Inscape), handed the trophies over to the winning teams.
The winning Teams:
Team Bazinga won the prize for the best dressed student team
Team South Africa Ice Hockey won the prize/trophy for most laps done (they are the actual team that represents South Africa in Ice Hockey)
A third year Inscape team won Best spirit team of the day
Pink ladybirds was the best dressed corporate team.
Team Strategic McCain won best spirit
The Inscape project
“Our final year Graphic and Interior Design students have a subject called LP (Leadership Program), whereby they were given a task of selecting two charities and finding out how they could assist them within their field,” Lance, The two charities they decided to support are: Dynamic Woman for Children and Christian Social Council located in Roodeplaat.
“This is not only a social development and outreach project, but the students will also be graded on their performance,” explained Lance.
The students to-do list is to stock the Kameeldrift Early Learning Centre (Christian Social Council) with educational goods, tables and chairs. For the Quest Kickboxing Development Academy (also in Kameeldrift) they need to create “a cosy nook complete with an entertainment area for a group of underprivileged kickboxers.”
For Dynamic Women for Children, the students need to design, paint, decorate and furnish a study for three Grade 10 learners who are doing the Future home-schooling program this year.
The two charities
Beánca du Toit, community developer of the Christian Social Council, was the representative of the day. They have two projects of which the Inscape students will be helping them with:
“The Kameeldrift Early Learning Centre cares for 100 pre-school children. The CSC supports the centre with food, getting their vegetable garden up and by paying two of the teachers’ stipends monthly.
The Quest Kickboxing Development Academy is a way/tool to teach children essential life skills through kickboxing. Children participate in events and have the opportunity to participate on national and international level. The academy currently has 30 students.”
Marleen van der Walt was the representative of Dynamic Women for Children. “We go to white informal settlements in Kameeldrift and support the children. We have an after school centre with 35 children: the ages ranges from 11 months to 16 years. We pick them up from school, give them food twice a day and help them with their homework. At 6 (pm) we take them home.”
Why a trolley race?
“A Trolley race is a fun and engaging way to raise funds and is used nationwide by most universities as a team building activity amongst theirvarious residences and also as a means to raise funds for charities,” said Lance.
According to Ina Kotze, the marketing manager of Kolonnade Retail Park (KRP) [we have] “allowed Target life students in the past to have their team bulding trolley races at the mall. When this joint venture came along and KRP had to be involved in some way, this idea was adopted.”
The trolley race/day were made possible by the Inscape Design College and The Fortunate Foundation.
The Fortunate Foundation (Section 21 not for profit company) is a network that connects charities to businesses and the public.
I’ve decided to post my articles which I have written for Spotlight (and never saw the light) on my blog.
It doesn’t look like Spotlight is going to work out.
At least I can count it as experience and I have some great pieces for my portfolio (I think).
I also had the privilege to see some awesome people in action. Here are their stories…