Posted July 14, 2021 5:17 pm by

South Africa unrest prompts fears of food and fuel shortages

A suspected looter hauls away items on Wednesday from a ransacked shopping mall in Vosloorus on the outskirts of Johannesburg © AFP / MARCO LONGARI

Johannesburg (AFP), Jul 14 – Unrest raged in South Africa on Wednesday for the sixth day running, stoking fears of food and fuel shortages as disruption to farming, manufacturing and oil refining began to bite.

Seventy-two people have died and more than 1,200 people have been arrested, according to official figures, since former president Jacob Zuma began a 15-month jail term, sparking protests that swiftly turned violent.

Looting has hit supply chains and transport links especially in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, sending a shockwave to goods and services around parts of the country.

State-owned logistics operator, Transnet, on Wednesday declared a “force majeure” — an emergency beyond its control — on a key rail line that links Johannesburg to the coast because the “unrest and subsequent closure of roads has meant employees are not able to report for duty”.

In the port city of Durban, people started queueing outside food stores and at fuel stations as early as 4 a.m. (0200 GMT) when the Covid night curfew ends, an AFP photographer saw.

South Africa unrest prompts fears of food and fuel shortages

People queued to enter a supermarket in Durban on Tuesday after other stores were ransacked © AFP / RAJESH JANTILAL

The night before, the country’s largest refinery SAPREF also declared “force majeure” and shuttered its plant in Durban, responsible for a third of South Africa’s fuel supply.

The firm said the refinery was “temporarily shut down… due to the civil unrest and disruption of supply routes in and out of KwaZulu-Natal”.

Some fuel retailers have begun rationing while others are starting to run dry.

“It’s inevitable that we will have fuel shortages in the next couple of days or weeks,” Layton Beard, spokesman for South Africa’s Automobile Association, told AFP.

– ‘Massive humanitarian crisis’ –

Outside a supermarket in northern Durban’s Eastman region, around 400 people started lining up to buy food, hours before opening.

In Johannesburg Soweto township, bread was being sold from a delivery truck outside a major shopping mall as stores have either been looted or shut due to fears of vandalism.

“With these lootings, it’s an inflection point… this has now seriously compromised our energy security and food security,” said Bonang Mohale, a professor of business and economics at the Read More…