A municipality in Limpopo has stated that they had previously advised the owner of a building to carry out renovations. This statement follows an incident where a woman was injured, and numerous informal vendors and small businesses suffered financial losses due to the collapse of the roof of an old building in the city centre of Thohoyandou.

By Bernard Chiguvare

A woman was injured, and several informal vendors and small businesses are out of pocket after the roof of an old building in Thohoyandou’s city centre collapsed this week.

The building housed several shops including a hardware shop, KFC and Hollywood Bets. The collapse of the roof has affected several hawkers who for years have been making a living selling food, and repairing shoes or mobile phones outside the building.

Thulamela municipal manager Masala Makumule said a 55-year-old woman who was passing by had sustained minor injuries. He said the municipality had warned the owner in 2020 that an upgrade was necessary. He said the cause of the collapse had yet to be established and he and was waiting for a forensic report. “Thereafter a penalty will be imposed.”

GroundUp’s calls and messages to the owner of the building went unanswered.

When GroundUp visited the scene on 15 August, workers were clearing rubble inside and outside. “It sounded like an earthquake and all the workers escaped through the other door. We are not sure what caused the collapse,” said Robert Rashaka, who works at Star Glass Hardware.

Mkateko Mabasa has been selling food outside the building for five years. “The buildings collapsed in the morning while I was busy preparing food. I had to throw it away.”

She pays R30 every day to travel to town by minibus taxi from Tswinga and relies on the money she makes to feed herself and her four children. “I am not sure my customers will come for food today. The place is still dusty,” she said.

Tshifhiwa Tshinakaho, who runs Star Glass Hardware, said he had lost more than 20 glass sheets worth over R2,000. “I have to wait a few days till the rubble is cleared and some renovation done,” said Tshinakaho.

The municipality said it could not help the vendors who were operating outside the building in undesignated spots.

This article is republished from GroundUp under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article on groundup.org.za

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