Botshabelo mall to boost township economy

0
640
The 39-year-old Mokonyana Pius Mosunyane was involved in the project as one of the construction workers involved in the foundation and scaffolding. He consequently won the competition to design the mall’s logo.

Since its establishment in 1979, residents of the township of Botshabelo, meaning “a place of refuge”, have had to travel for 45km to Bloemfontein, either to get daily supplies or for work purposes. This means that while the city of Bloemfontein is still asleep, Botshabelo residents start boarding buses at 04:30 in the morning to begin their day.
Eleven years ago, the CEO of Khora Investments, Neo Masithela, conceptualised what he at the time called a Botshabelo Centre for development. He wanted to bring economic activity closer to the people of the township, which was then known for the many factories it housed. On the 20th of February 2015, at the sod-turning for the project, Masithela took the first step towards realising his dream.
The Botshabelo Mall is conveniently located at the corner of Main Road and the N8 highway in Botshabelo, Free State Province. The 21 000 square metre mall provides much needed services to the local community, with anchor tenants like Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths, Truworths, Foschini, Roots Butchery and Cashbuild.
During his speech at the official opening of the mall, Masithela said that the mall was the first step in his programme to bring economic activity to the township. He said that Liberty Two Degrees, the Liberty Property Portfolio, saw the potential in this project and invested R340 million in the project. “This shows that the Liberty Group has confidence in the Botshabelo community,” he added.
During construction 900 workers, mostly from Botshabelo, were hired. Currently, 94% of the shops in the mall are occupied, with each store hiring a minimum of 5 employees.
Liberty Property Porfolio fund manager, Alex Phakathi, said whenever they take a decision to invest in a community they make it their priority to include the community in their projects. He said they not only wanted the community’s opinions regarding the mall, but wanted them to feel like a part of the project, which is why they invited designers from Botshabelo to design the mall logo. “This logo was designed locally, by the people of Botshabelo, and gives them ownership. It is their own investment in this project,” added Phakathi.
The 39-year-old Mokonyana Pius Mosunyane was involved in the project from the start as one of the construction workers involved in the foundation and scaffolding. He grabbed the opportunity and consequently won the competition to design the mall’s logo. “I was at home when I heard the ad on radio. Even though I was not sure what it entailed, I thought I might as well try.”
He walked 3km daily to attend the three-day outreach programme where he learnt about logo design. During this time, Pius designed five logos and two of these were selected for consideration. Pius based his design on the heritage of the Basotho, which has a strong presence in the township. The design features diamonds and the colours the culture is associated with. Even though Pius had no previous experience of design, he excelled with his logo. He also received an internship at the mall as part of his winnings.
The mall boasts creating employment opportunities for the community in and around Botshabelo. “The general manager of the mall is a Bloemfontein resident, which means now we might see people from Bloemfontein waking up at 04:30 to commute to Botshabelo for work,” joked Neo Masithela. – Seithati Semenokane 
seithati@centralmediagroup.co.za