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Qacha’s Nek shops run out of stock


Keiso Mohloboli

Qacha’s Nek

Qacha’s Nek supermarkets have virtually run out of stock due to violence rocking Matatiele in Eastern Cape, South Africa, where they purchase their merchandise.

Matatiele residents went on the rampage last week demanding tarred roads in their villages. The angry residents also burnt tyres and dug trenches across a gravel road between Matatiele and the Lesotho border and threatened to torch any vehicle they find on this stretch of highway.

South African police on Wednesday used rubber bullets to disperse the protesters but the situation remains tense in the area, while the road has also not been fixed, leaving Qacha’s Nek entrepreneurs stranded.

The owner of SPU Supermarket, Maananelang Mohapi, told the Sunday Express the only way for her business to remain open is to purchase stock in Maseru, which is a 12-hour drive away.

Ms Mohapi said Matatiele is only 20 kilometres from Qacha’s Nek, hence all the local shop-owners purchase their stock in the South African town.

“My supermarket and others in this town, have run out of stock and now need to drive all the way to Maseru for orders, which is not viable. We were used to driving for about one hour only to buy stock in Matatiele, while it takes about six hours to reach Maseru, and another six to drive back.

“The expenses involved in such travel leave us with a very little profit margin, if any at all, and if the riots continue in Matatiele, I am afraid most businesses in this town, not just supermarkets, will be forced to close down.

“These are small businesses that cannot afford the long and expensive trip to Maseru, and I pray that the situation improves in Matatiele, otherwise our businesses are doomed,” Ms Mohapi said.

Meanwhile, South African police have been escorting tourists across the terror road and have warned people against using the thoroughfare due to the protests. Iiro Seppanen from Finland on Friday told the Sunday Express at the Matatiele Border Post that he had not been aware of the riots, and was shocked to find South African police “all over the road”, when his vehicle suddenly fell into a crater as he approached the Lesotho border from Matatiele.

“I was from Durban and just felt like going to Johannesburg via Lesotho. But as I left Matatiele and headed for the Lesotho border, my vehicle suddenly fell into a deep hole that had been dug across the road. And suddenly, police officers were all over the road and for more than one hour, battled to get the car out of the hole. But after failing to get it out, they had to call for a breakdown vehicle, which eventually pulled the 4×4 out. It was a terrifying experience as it was dark and I was not aware about the residents’ protests as I am visitor to this part of the world,” said Mr Seppanen.

A Zambian living in Matatiele, who asked not be named for fear of victimisation, told the Sunday Express that the rioting residents are digging up the road again once the municipality has repaired it.

“The protesters are saying they will not stop digging up the road until their grievances are met. And to make matters worse, they burn any car they see on that road since the police cannot be around all the time.

“I really don’t know when all this will end but I can see that people from Lesotho are suffering because they are no longer free to come for shopping in Matatiele.

“I really fear for those who use the road without knowing the danger in the area. As for myself, I also no longer feel safe because I am a foreigner and those people can turn xenophobic any time.”



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