But the excitement caused huge traffic delays and long queues of bargain hunters, some of whom had camped at the mall since the early hours of the morning to be first in line when the shops opened. Traffic was heavily backed up on the N1 and N3 north towards the Allandale off-ramp. #MallofAfrica trended on Twitter for the better part of the day, as people shared their excitement and frustration.
Road users also took to social media to air their frustration over the hours’ long traffic jam. Some posters said they were at the mall to take advantage of bargains, others cited tough economic times, while the rest said the crowd would attract criminals to the mall. And by midday, several cars were reported stolen. The mall boasts more than 300 stores, and the long-awaited opening marks the largest first phase completion of a mall ever in South Africa.
The R5 billion mall is co-owned by two leading South African real estate giants. JSE-listed property growth fund Attacq Limited owns 80% of the Mall of Africa, to Atterbury Property Developments’ 20%.
According to Eunice Ncube, who came from Pretoria with her two children: “We’ve been here since six this morning. I’m hoping to get good deals on groceries and clothes.” But some shops were closed and others had construction workers adding final touches.
According to Atterbury, Mall of Africa is the hub of the Waterfall development, which will be larger than the Sandton and Johannesburg CBDs in 10 to 15 years.