Businesses yesterday continued to count the costs as the frenzied looting and vandalism of shopping malls and industrial parks went up a few notches.
BUSINESSES on Tuesday continued to count the costs as the frenzied looting and vandalism of shopping malls and industrial parks went up a few notches.
The ongoing violent protests taking place across KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng since the weekend escalated further with the looting of distribution warehouses yesterday, with more than 700 looters arrested.
Market observers have warned the volatile situation may now lead to the breakdown of supply-chains, leading to food insecurity as some customers go on panic buying amid the emptying of shelves during the unrest.
Intellidex’s Peter Attard Montalto said the situation will not be solved by community engagement alone, but by the breaking of a cycle of impunity through the rapid and overwhelming use of force.
“The situation could peak shortly but we worry about a long tail given the lack of credible leadership or show of force, and then follow-on issues will emerge around food security,” he said.
“While there will be a short-run economic impact our bigger worry is the negative impact this will have on broader foreign direct investment sentiment now previously boxed risks are on the table.”
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned the country could face food and medicine shortages as a result of disruptions to supply chains and industries across the two provinces.
“These disruptions will cost lives by cutting off the supply chains that sustain our food, health and production systems,” he said.
“This will have lasting effects on our ability to consolidate some of the progress we were witnessing in our economic recovery.”
Police Minister Bheki Cele said they were monitoring the situation on the ground and will make sure it did not get any worse.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said though the SA National Defence Force had deployed 2 500 troops to assist the police, she did not believe the situation warranted a state of emergency.
The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) condemned the looting of goods, saying the survival of black businesses had been sabotaged by political unrest.
Nafcoc Gauteng spokesperson Refilwe Monageng said they were very saddened to see the destruction of businesses, property and threats to the safety of citizens in a number of communities.
“Black owned businesses, in particular, cannot afford this turmoil. Black entrepreneurs throughout South Africa have already been in crisis mode for well over a year following various forms of lockdown restrictions since March 2020,” Monageng said.