Row over who gets the jobs

WHILE the construction of the Protea Glen Mall - due to be opened soon - is good news for the community of Soweto, there is growing unhappiness about who gets the jobs created by the facility.

Yesterday a roof-wetting party was held at the shopping centre.

It was attended by Minister in the Presidency for National Planning Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Zion Christian Church Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane.

Developed by the Masingita Group of Companies, the R380-million shopping mall will have 120 shops.

Already, 700 jobs have been created in the construction process and 1500 permanent jobs are expected to be created when the mall officially opens in September.

Elliot Sithole, local councilor at Protea, said the jobs were given to locals.

"About 80% (of the jobs were offered to) locals and 20% (has been offered to people from) outside.

"We cannot satisfy everyone. In life you will always find people who say, 'I am not employed' and they go and organise other people and say 'let's toyi toyi'.

"We are prepared to listen to their grievances and see how we can address the issues," Sithole said.

But the Protea Unemployment Forum has criticised the development, claiming it excludes locals in employment.

"Most of the people employed so far are from outside the area," said Lorraine Tshabalala, an executive member of the forum.

"We have a database of about 300 people and only five people have been employed.

"We are really unhappy because we had approached the local councillor and informed him about our database, but still there are more people from outside the area that are being employed here."

Masingita Group of Companies chairman Mike Nkuna said the concept of building the mall began in 2005.

"I was driving around and realised that the people of Protea are in need of a facility where they can do shopping, instead of going to Lenasia," he said.

The mall is 65% owned by Masingita and 35% by Nedbank.

Nkuna has, among others, built Bara Mall, Diepsloot Mall and Jabulani Mall.

Mokonyane said that the new mall would also boost the R7-billion housing development being built at Lufereni, toward Leratong.

"Indeed, our townships shall be thriving areas of excellence and economic development.

"With this development, the (Protea) Glen suburb is bound to become one of the attractive areas in Soweto," said Mokonyane.

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