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Vandals tear R6.6m car wash apart

A multi-million rand car wash project owned by the City of Tshwane, which was meant to create jobs for the youth of Mamelodi and invigorate the economy of the township, has descended into dilapidation.

The Reitiretse integrated vehicle washing facility in Mamelodi West has been stripped by criminals, before it even opened its doors.

The R6.6m facility now looks a far cry from the day it was launched amid fanfare in November 2015.

When Sowetan visited the facility yesterday, the structures have lost their roofs and door frames, while the toilet block has been stripped of the toilet seats and basins, while the windows and other fittings had been vandalised.

Reitiretse was launched by former Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa and Gauteng premier David Makhura.

At the time, the car wash premises included a fully equipped laundromat and a fully equipped hair salon.

Located near Mamelodi's major thoroughfare, Tsamaya Drive, the project was meant to guarantee 50 direct jobs in its first year of operating, as it grew to add other businesses such as a shisanyama and shops.

Despite clear signs of vandalism, the City of Tshwane spokesperson, Lindela Mashigo, said the property was damaged by storms and rains elements. "A co-operative of township car washers was established and operated the car wash until it was damaged by storms and heavy rains," Mashigo said.

However, locals told Sowetan that the car wash was never operational after the big launch by government.

Mashigo said the city was "discussing with the Gauteng department of economic development, environment and agriculture to resuscitate all township projects including the [Mamelodi] car wash".

Mashigo said Reitiretse would be turned "into incubation centres [for] small and emerging businesses".

But some Mamelodi residents are sceptical. Obed Mashikwe, who runs a hair salon nearby, said: "I was planning on moving my salon business to the premises but I'm so disappointed in our government and the City of Tshwane for selling us a pipe dream."

Mashikwe said the place had become a haven for drug addicts until security guards were sent to guard it since October last year.

"I'm pleading with the City of Tshwane to turn the facility into something good youth of Mamelodi can use and learn some skills," Mashikwe said.

Anna Makua agreed with the city that the place can be salvaged: "I have a business of cleaning but I don't have a place to operate [from] and yet there's this free facility I can use."

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