Mass stampede at Egodini: Anger, chaos and disappointment

Mass stampede at Egodini: Anger, chaos and disappointment
Published: 15 October 2018 (144 Views)
Thousands of job seekers broke a makeshift fence made of zinc sheets today when they tried to gain entrance to Egodini Contact Centre where development company Terracotta is beginning to recruit workers for the mall project.

"Give us jobs. We want jobs now," the desperate job seekers, who started camping at the site yesterday, shouted to authorities who tried to engage them from behind the locked gate of the centre.

An estimated 350 jobs are to be created for phase one of the project, according to Terracotta Director Thulani Moyo. Today's recruitment is a scheme to register interested individuals in employment databases for work in the future, rather than a direct hiring process.

However, many people seemed to believe that the Contact Centre, was promising them immediate work. The Egodini Contact Centre was jointly opened on Friday by the Bulawayo City Council and Terracotta, the company which won the tender to construct the mall, and opened its doors to potential workers today.

But today at least 5000 job seekers stampeded the centre until riot police with dogs had to be called contain the anxious crowds which swelled over the course of the morning. But without fear, some youths even screamed to tell police that they were ready to die for the jobs.

A quick-turn investigation by The Citizen Bulletin revealed that the application forms which were distributed by authorities from Terracotta earlier this morning had run out and enterprising job seekers had begun making copies of the forms and selling them for 50 cents each.

"When we got here, forms had already run out," a lady in her early 20s who refused to disclose her name for fear of being blacklisted by the hiring company said, adding, "I bought the forms at 50 cents from the guys who are selling them," she said as she pointed towards some youths who were carrying a bunch of papers next to the entrance.

However, by 9 am, soft copies of the application forms had begun circulating on WhatsApp ostensibly to stop those attempting to benefit from selling them to unsuspecting job seekers.

According to some job hopefuls who were also part of the long queues which covered Lobengula Avenue and Basche Street, authorities said application forms could be collected, completed from home and submitted within 30 days.

But the desperate job seekers would have none of that as they stampeded to have an audience with their prospective employers who seemingly avoided addressing the crowds.

By 10 am, the crowds had begun moving from the queues at Basche Street to assemble inside the Egodini area with the hope of receiving good news from authorities.

Individuals in queues kept pushing towards the call centre as they clutched onto their completed application forms with the hope of submitting them before dispersing.

*This is a developing story. We will update it as events unfold.

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