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Hail of destruction 

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…as Maseru Mall ravaged by freak weather event 

…Several stores remain shut 

Letsatsi Selikoe 

The main structure of Maseru mall remains intact despite the extensive damage caused to its roof by a major hailstorm, the mall’s management has assured the public. 

In a dramatic and unexpected turn of events, a severe hailstorm tore through Maseru Mall on an otherwise tranquil Monday afternoon, causing widespread destruction. 

According to eyewitness accounts, the storm was of such magnitude that it resembled a disaster movie, with shoppers and employees alike scurrying for shelter as hailstones rained down with unbridled force, some reportedly reaching the size of golf balls. 

The scene at the mall, which is typically a bustling hub of retail activity, was described as apocalyptic. 

The sheer force of the storm left its mark on the mall, causing ceilings to cave in and doors to shatter, sending shards of glass flying through the air. As the mall’s roofing crumpled beneath the weight of the hailstones, water gushed through the gaping holes, flooding the once-bustling corridors. 

In a flash, the mall—once a bustling hive of activity—was transformed into a chaotic scene of destruction, with debris and water filling the corridors. 

In the aftermath of the storm, the full extent of the damage became clear. The mall’s ceiling was severely damaged, with most sections ripped off. Numerous stores suffered extensive water damage, while others had their windows and displays shattered. 

In a statement released shortly after the storm, Maseru Mall management sought to reassure shoppers and the community that the structure of the mall remained sound. 

“While the damage to the roof and ceilings caused by the storm was significant, we want to assure everyone that there was no damage to the structural integrity of the mall itself,” said the mall’s center manager Nkala Motlalane. “The collapsed ceilings were a result of the heavy weight of water accumulating on the roofs, and not because of any issues with the structural design of the mall. 

Some people, however, were not pleased with how the management handled the aftermath. 

Mr Ts’itso Mokhachane who described himself as an Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Officer said he walked into the mall on a Tuesday morning to run errands unaware of the situation at the place. 

He expressed deep disappointment in the mall’s response to the disaster. 

He told our reporter that the mall should have immediately evacuated the premises and prohibited customers from reentering until it was deemed safe. 

However, the management’s alleged negligence left patrons exposed to the risk of injury. 

“The aftermath of the storm’s destruction at Maseru Mall revealed more than just fallen ceilings and standing water,” the safety officer stated, adding ?the incident served as evidence of systemic failures within the mall’s leadership. 

“This disaster didn’t happen overnight,” he insisted. “Someone should have been keeping tabs on the weather, inspecting the roof gutters, ceilings and making sure the mall was in good condition. The fact that this happened means that someone wasn’t doing their job.” he said. 

Despite the mall’s assurances of structural soundness, the damage to several stores was extensive. Perhaps most notably, the Lesotho Standard Bank branch was forced to close temporarily as a result of severe water damage. 

In a statement, the bank announced that the branch would be closed until further notice, citing extensive flooding and damage to the interior of the building. 

In a brief recent interview with the?Sunday Express?sister paper the?Lesotho Times, SLB Marketing Manager, Manyathela Kheleli, said the damage forced the branch’s closure, leading to a relocation of employees to other branches. 

“We have always placed our customers and employees’ safety at the heart of our business,” Mr Kheleli said. 

“As soon as the incident occurred we had to close our doors which caused inconveniences to those who were seeking services. We however managed to relay our apologies by atleast offering coffee to those who were around.” 

He further emphasized?despite the temporary setback, Standard Lesotho Bank remained committed to serving its customers. 

“We want to assure our customers that although our Maseru Mall branch has been affected by this incident, we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure continuity of service. Our other branches are fully operational, and we encourage our customers to visit any of these branches for their banking needs,” he said. 

“We are working closely with the management of Maseru Mall to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time.” 

Meanwhile, SLB Customers were advised to visit alternative branches for their banking needs, while the bank’s insurance provider assessed the damage and began the process of repair and restoration. 

However, some community members have expressed concern about the mall’s safety, suggesting that it would be prudent for management to close the facility completely until proper repairs can be made. 

Mokoto Kopane, who frequents the mall for lunch and other errands, voiced his support for a complete shutdown. 

“I sympathise with owners of the stores for this huge loss, but to prevent this from happening again there can’t be a quick fix. These people need to take their time to properly rework on the structures,” he said. “I think it’s best if they close the mall until it’s been fully inspected and deemed safe for everyone,” Mr Kopane said. 

Although the initial chaos of the storm has subsided, many stores within Maseru Mall are still grappling with the aftermath, as they work tirelessly to clean up and repair the damage sustained during the hailstorm. 

Despite the setbacks, the stores remain resolute in their determination to rebuild and reopen their doors to the public as soon as possible.? 

 

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