Going once… going twice… SOLD!

Everson Luhanga

Goods that were looted during the July unrest last year went under the hammer on Tuesday in an auction held in Alexandra township.

The old Alexandra police station was like a field of festivities, with people queuing at the main gate from as early as 7am as they excitedly waited for the gates to open at 10.

The goods that were up for grabs mostly consisted of expensive furniture along with a few bicycles and bundles of building materials.

There were also items like washing machines, laptops, expensive wristwatches and even used ladders, all put in different blocks.

The items were looted at different shops and were recovered by the police. They have been gathering dust in police storage for almost a year.

Many of the bidders were police officers. Some arrived in uniform but most wore their plain clothes as they enjoyed the event.

When the gates were finally opened, prospective bidders were briefed on the rules of the auction.

The rules were clear: you buy what you see, voetstoots. Yo u buy everything that has been put under one block number at a price that will beat the rest of the bidders.

Buyers were bidding, the ones with the highest price would be called, and they would make payments before collecting what they bought.

But there was one man, Ishmael Acosta, who did not come to bid.

The Portuguese Acosta, who owned a business at the Pan Africa Mall, said he came to the auction to check whether his stolen stock was among the items being sold.

“I have been doing a furniture business in this area for more than eight years. We were hit with a lockdown where many people were not working.

“It slowed the business as furniture is not a necessity for people to consider. But my business survived until it started picking up,” he said.

“But then, the looting happened and my shop was one of the many that were broken into and burnt down.”

He said the looting kicked him out of business and he couldn’t come back. “I lost everything. It breaks my heart.”

Alexandra was one of the worst hit townships in Gauteng during the unrest, with looters destroying and burning down shops.

Although the festivities of Tuesday’s auction felt a long way off from the violence and misery of the unrest, its ghost could still be felt in the stolen items on display.