Botshabelo Mall cuts long shopping trips to Bloemfontein

Ernest and Tumi Mohlahlo cutting the ribbon while Terry Boardman (Group Operations Services Executive for Famous Brands), Craig McKenzie (Debonair's Pizza founder) and Lorette van der Merwe (General Manager of the Free State Region for Famous Brands) share the moment. PHOTO: MATSEKO RAMOTEKOA

Botshabelo Township was developed almost 37 years ago and for many years thousands of residents have been travelling to Bloemfontein, about 50km away, to shop for clothes and other necessities. Over the years many people decided to move to Bloemfontein after claiming that they were sick and tired of taking long trips to get their shopping done.
Fortunately for the people of Botshabelo, the long awaited Botshabelo Mall opened its doors on the 17th of November. Residents of Thaba Nchu as well as other towns such as Tweespruit and Ladybrand are all overjoyed with the opening of the new mall.
There are at least 80 big shops at the mall, believed to be covering 21 000 square metres. It is situated next to the N8 and allegedly cost R320 million. To many young people, the opening of the mall meant a lot as many jobs were created.
The mall boasts big supermarkets as well as retailer clothing stores and a restaurant.
Bonolo Makena of the iconic South African business, Debonair’s Pizza, spoke to Voice saying the home of the most enjoyed pizza in South Africa has officially opened its milestone 600th restaurant in the Botshabelo Mall.
According to Makena this local brand has developed from a single outlet in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, to a network of restaurants in 15 countries, extending across Africa as far as the United Arab Emirates, and now on Botshabelo’s doorstep.
“On our opening night we sold 8 pizzas. Debonair’s Pizza now sells about 10 pizzas per minute, which is indicative of the brand’s success in making pizza accessible to the broader South African market,” said Craig McKenzie, founder of Debonair’s Pizza.
“And to think, at our very first strategy meeting in 1992 we agreed that 50 outlets in South Africa would be a stretched target. It is with great pride that we are witnessing how the brand has flourished beyond all expectations throughout the country and beyond.”
The franchise has grown a R6 000 capital investment to a multimillion rand business today, a legacy now forming part of the Botshabelo community.
As part of this legacy, the franchisee will support the Botshabelo Youth Care Centre through the Dough Nation initiative, which bakes all fresh left-over dough as pizza breads and donates it to local charities. This initiative currently donates in excess of
30 000 pizza breads monthly and continues to grow as the brand grows.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity to boost the community by creating jobs, for the chance to share our taste with the local customers and for the humbling support from the community,” said Botshabelo franchisee, Tumi Mohlahlo.
Botshabelo resident, Martha Sebolai, said she was glad that at last Botshabelo had its own mall. According to Martha, it is no longer necessary for her to take a trip to Bloemfontein whenever she feels like eating pizza. “I am able to take my kids out without having to worry about taking a trip to Bloemfontein,” she said. – Matseko Ramotekoa