Mall reeling from destructive hailstorm

FamCast News
a month ago

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By Neo Kolane

At least seven businesses operating at Maseru Mall were temporarily shut down after a flash hailstorm caused damage to the building on Monday afternoon.

Among the businesses are Econet Telecom Lesotho, Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB), Game Stores, Metropolitan Lesotho, Barcelos and Nedbank Lesotho.

Speaking with theReporter, the brand and marketing manager-communications and sponsorship at SLB, Mayathela Kheleli, said like any other bank, they have a mandate to always service their clients, come rain or sunshine.

“With such an emergency situation, the bank has what is called a business continuity programme system which helps us on how we can quickly re-arrange ourselves so that we continue serving our clients.

“The business and commercial banking, home loans and vehicle and asset finance departments are also closed. As SLB, we have alternative areas where services have been taken to because we have increased our capacity to support our customers.

“For home loans, they get services at the Tower branch, business and commercial at City branch, vehicle and asset finance at the private banking at Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” Kheleli said.

He noted that they are only tenants at the mall, so all they know is that Eris Property is investigating the matter.

SLB therefore, will be guided by Eris Property in terms of remedying the situation and the direction that needs to be taken.

He also revealed that the ceiling collapsed causing damage to furniture, flooring and several personal computers while a few were rescued.

“We are still taking stock of the damage. Therefore, we however cannot quantify the extent at the moment. What I can tell you is we are hit badly because we have four offices working from there,” he added.

In a similar vein, the public relations and customer experience specialist of Econet Telecom Lesotho, Retṥelisitsoe Nkhahle, confirmed that the Econet Shop at Maseru Mall has been damaged.

The company is yet to assess the financial implication of the accident, Nkhahle said.

The marketing executive of Mustardseed, Kerisha Govender, could not disclose the monetary value of the damage, except to say there has been no structural damage to the building. 

Mustardseed is a project and portfolio company that provides public relations services for Maseru Mall.

Govender said the severe downpour in a short period of time caused a buildup of water in the roof, especially when the hail began to liquefy.

“We did have initial reports of water penetrating electrical wiring but have received confirmation from our contractors that the electricity feeds are safe and secured.

“This is really positive news as it means that we will be able to attend to it fairly quickly and Maseru Mall will be open to the community hopefully within the next couple of days,” she explained.

Govender disclosed that the majority of the affected areas are fortunately contained to the mall’s common areas where the water seeped through on the insulation and ceiling sheets. 

She further indicated that affected stores are still busy with their internal assessments and they await their reports as well as feedback from the insurance brokers to be able to quantify the damage.

Govender added that she was happy that their two food anchor tenants are operational.

“The Lesotho Meteorological Services reported an expectation of heavy rains and storms from February to March/April 2024 this year, but we definitely did not expect this severe and unprecedented hailstorm isolated in this specific area. This is the same phenomenon experienced two weekends ago at Somerset Mall in the Western Cape.

“As the safety of our tenants, customers and staff is of paramount importance, we have contractors working tirelessly to restore the affected areas. At this stage, we have cordoned off areas for safety reasons.

“We are grateful for the community of contractors, tenants and the public who have shown support during this time. Moreso, we are relieved that there were no serious injuries sustained during this unprecedented weather event,” she said.

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