July 2021 – A Month of Turmoil and Resilience Creates Strength and Unity
Usually, Mandela Day on 18 July is a day filled with much exuberance and a multitude of selfless acts by South Africans all over the country. In past years it has been a day set aside for sharing the sentiment of charity, kindness and giving which the late Nelson Mandela was so famous for. Unfortunately, this year it was eclipsed by the devastating events of the previous week, which resulted in mass violence and unprecedented economic loss. According to The South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) the cost of the destruction to the nation’s GDP was roughly R50 billion.
Following the news of Jacob Zuma’s arrest – with 15 months of jail time to be served – rioting mobs of Zuma supporters seemingly erupted into the streets to campaign for his release. Over time, emboldened members of the crowd turned violent and began breaking into stores and looting them, extensively damaging property. According to SAPOA, approximately 200 shopping centres and 100 malls were affected. Some cargo trucks carrying goods were targeted, looted and burned, and major highways like the N3 were disrupted causing confusion and frustration for commuters. During the pandemonium, more than 200 people were tragically killed nationwide and damages amounting to more than R1 billion were directly suffered by individuals and business owners alike.
KwaZulu-Natal was the province most affected by the disastrous events, although Gauteng also suffered the impact of this orchestrated anger leaving many sectors of the nation’s economy adversely affected; including, transportation, food supply, commerce, and more. Many small businesses were forced to temporarily close down to protect themselves from looters and vandals, and others have lost everything, leaving insurers to pay millions of Rands in repairs. It seemed that the ongoing inequality, poverty, and unemployment exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and coupled with recent alert level 4 restrictions, pushed many already-desperate people to boiling point.
“We are humbled by the reports of fathers and sons patrolling the streets of their neighbourhoods, bravely defending their homes and properties. Some had police support but most were entirely community-driven. This reflects the fortitude of the people in South Africa. Some communities have come together successfully to defend small towns and suburbs, keeping looters from entering, but others just weren’t ready.” says Sandy Walsh, MD of Property.CoZa South Africa. “The looting and destruction of property and goods, coupled with opportunistic illegal acts, have been condemned but not completely stopped. Nonetheless, it is heartening to see people from all walks of life standing together to defend themselves. We hope that the unrest will die down soon and that the instigators and participants will take responsibility for their actions”.
The events following these atrocities have left many buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, unsure of their next move and the most difficult situation is of those who are in the midst of moving into a new house, selling their homes, or actually transporting their furniture from one region to another. The following information is important for buyers and sellers that were planning to move homes during the alert level 4 Lock-down, and now the recent State of Disaster:
- Remain calm if you are selling your home, the value of your property will definitely not be dropping overnight. It would take considerable time for these events to have any direct affect on the value of properties in the regions, if so at all.
- Speak with your attorney and all of the relevant parties involved in the sale or purchase of your property. Try to delay or renegotiate your moving date, even if this means paying occupational rent for the time being. Safety should always be the main priority, and in difficult times such as these people are often more inclined to help each other and be lenient.
*Occupational rent is a standard clause in an Agreement of Sale, and is paid when a buyer (or buyers) of the property move in before the transfer is complete, or if a seller remains in the property and pays the buyer after the property is registered in their name.
- If you are able to, stock up on supplies that may help during food distribution issues, power cuts or municipal issues such as water shortages and waste collection.
Walsh added: “We pray that you and your families are safe, your homes are protected, and peace returns quickly to your neighbourhood. We send love and blessings to all our Property Professionals and especially to those who have suffered from these events. We wish for many more of the acts of kindness, goodness, and resilience that we see emerging from people who truly care about their communities. We can see this strength shining through from those who have come forward to clean up the streets and buildings and to lend a hand to those in need. They are the heroes of this disaster, good people doing good deeds, and constructively directing their energy to rebuild. We salute you!”