Rain fails to dampen spirits

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Heavy rainfall could not deter Sowetans, including some of its famous citizens, from converging on a grand opening of the new Maponya Mall near Nancefield, Soweto, yesterday.

Hundreds of shoppers flocked to the township's biggest mall to date and took advantage of the discount prices offered by retailers, as the centre opened its doors for the first time.

The opening ceremony was attended by dignitaries such as former president Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Dr Nthato Motlana and Soweto's foremost businessman, Richard Maponya - the brains behind the mall.

Named after Maponya - who owns the land - by the property group that built it, the mall boasts 200 stores which include a variety of clothing retailers, a large hypermarket, restaurants, banks, a huge cinema and scores of other convenience stores.

"This shopping centre will attract more business and help this sprawling township's economic development," said Maponya.

Shoppers jostled for space as shopkeepers tried to maintain order by limiting the number of customers at the doors.

Hundreds of people waited outside the supermarket, peeping through the doors.

Shopkeepers, security guards and the police had their hands full as they tried to control excited shoppers.

"It is exciting, there is a variety of shops and I actually think the rain was not a distraction but a blessing," said happy shopper Nozuko Mbuwako, accompanied by her three children on the shopping spree.

Mpho Mabule who lives nearby in Pimville, with loads of designer jeans in his hands, said it was no longer necessary for him to visit shopping centres in town.

"Everything is here, even your upmarket specialist stores are right here in the township, I am satisfied," said Mabule.

Lucas Segeel said he took the day off work to take advantage of the mall's first day of business.