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LIVE UPDATES | Riots and looting: spontaneous outbreak or insurrection?

15 July 2021 - 06:00 By TimesLIVE
Soldiers patrolled in armoured vehicles through Vosloorus on the East Rand.
Soldiers patrolled in armoured vehicles through Vosloorus on the East Rand.
Image: Alon Skuy/ File photo

July 15 2021 - 17:18

Shoppers stand in long queues from as early as 6am as some stores reopen in KZN

Hundreds of KwaZulu-Natal residents spent hours in snaking queues on Thursday when shops reopened, after several days of looting and violence brought the province to a standstill.

At Windermere Centre in Durban, only 20 people were allowed in at a time, with a 15-minute time limit at the few stores that opened their doors, including Shoprite Checkers, Woolworths, a fruit and veg shop and a pet shop.

Priyanka and Myushka Naidoo joined the queue at about 6am and walked out of the centre just after 2pm with 40 items between them.

July 15 2021 - 17:10

Santam registers insurance claims related to wave of looting and violence

SA’s largest short-term insurer, Santam, scheduled an online media briefing last week about its Covid-19-related business interruption claims, little realising that come Monday, the company would be grappling with a rash of claims stemming from an even more dramatic form of business interruption.

By close of business on Wednesday, the insurer had registered 21 motor and 167 non-motor claims stemming from mass unrest and looting in Gauteng and particularly KwaZulu-Natal.

Santam is not revealing the quantum just yet, but all the claims fall under Sasria (the South African Special Risks Insurance Association), a state-owned entity which covers loss or damage to insured property as a direct result of civil unrest, including rioting, strike action and public disorder, with insurers such as Santam acting as intermediaries.

July 15 2021 - 16:33

Dead fish on KZN beaches linked to chemical factory set alight by looters

Dead fish and crayfish that have washed up on the beaches of Umhlanga and Umdloti, north of Durban, have prompted a warning by the eThekwini municipality for the public to refrain from fishing, surfing and swimming.

The municipality said it was investigating what caused the marine life to die.

“It is considered serious and can affect one’s health if collected and consumed.”

July 15 2021 - 15:08

Cleanup begins as communities take brooms to streets and help rebuild

An army of volunteers, armed with brooms and united in purpose, have taken to the debris-strewn streets in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to clean up the mess and destruction caused by days of looting.

They came out in numbers on Thursday in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg.

Thabo Tsotetsi, a resident of Ebony Park in Midrand, dressed all in black, was among the scores of people who pitched in to clean up a shopping centre in Ebony Park.

July 15 2021 - 15:08

Tiger Brands halts KwaZulu-Natal operations

Tiger Brands, SA’s largest food producer, has temporarily closed all operations in KwaZulu-Natal, which accounts for the bulk of the more than R150m in stock losses the company has suffered as the result of widespread looting.

The owner of brands such as Tastic rice and Albany bread said on Thursday that the extent of the damage to property and infrastructure, as well as the affect on profit, were yet to be determined. However, it said it was covered by insurance.

Its shares dropped 0.44% and were trading at R212.06 at midmorning on the JSE, valuing Tiger Brands at about R40.4bn.

July 15 2021 - 14:49

'Chaos and mayhem': ANC veterans slam looting

The ANC Veterans League (ANCVL) has added its voice to those denouncing the looting of goods and public violence sparked by the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, saying this was unprecedented since the advent of democracy in 1994.

ANCVL president Snuki Zikalala said the riots negatively affect every member of society.

This as big corporates have halted production and transportation of essential goods leading to a scarcity of fuel and food after shops and factories were looted and burnt down in the “free Zuma” riots which started last week. The Covid-19 vaccination rollout has also been affected as various sites had to shut down.

July 15 2021 - 14:47

Clean-ups under way as looting starts to die down

A week of violence that has engulfed SA slowly began to ebb on Thursday, and people counted the cost of an orgy of arson and looting that has destroyed hundreds of businesses and killed at least 70 people.

Looting continued in parts of the eastern port city of Durban, but in much of the main commercial city Johannesburg, shopkeepers and other residents sifted through the debris, cleared up trash and assessed what remained of their ruined businesses.

At Diepkloof Mall in Soweto, SA's biggest township and one of the worst affected areas, about 50 people swept up broken glass and packed empty shoe boxes into plastic rubbish bags, a Reuters reporter said.

July 15 2021 - 14:31

Zimbabwe fears food disruptions, higher prices after SA riots; pins hopes on ANC fixing chaos soon

Zimbabwe says the ANC has the capacity to deal with SA’s current turmoil and that for now there’s no need for Sadc intervention.

Speaking to journalists in Harare on Wednesday night after Zanu-PF’s politburo meeting, party spokesperson and former ambassador to SA Simon Khaya Moyo said: “It was pleasing to note to a larger extent that the situation in SA is still within the capacity of our fraternal friends, the ANC and its government, to resolve and hopefully quell the chaos which has been reported on various media platforms.

“We are confident that our colleagues in SA will overcome this challenge.”

July 15 2021 - 14:30

'Food in, people out': Safair adds flights to help looting-ravaged KZN residents

Domestic airline Safair said on Thursday it would be sending bread and other essential food to KwaZulu-Natal while laying on extra flights to cater for residents fleeing the province, which has been brought to its knees by violence and thousands of looters.

“The effects of this week’s violence have been devastating and KwaZulu-Natal is now facing challenges relating to supply chain constraints and limitations on the movement of goods and people,” said Kirby Gordon, the airline’s chief marketing officer. “So from tomorrow [Friday] we are adding to flights into and out of Durban.”

It boils down to “food in, people out”.

July 15 2021 - 14:26

Business Unity SA calls for 24-hour curfew in looted KZN and Gauteng areas

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) on Thursday called on government to institute a 24-hour curfew in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng areas which have been ravaged by looting and protest action.

In a media briefing, Busa said this should be accompanied by the full deployment of the army and police.

The organisation said this would not be an indefinite curfew but would allow the army and police to position themselves to allow some normalcy to resume.

July 15 2021 - 14:08

Poultry industry euthanises chickens amid riots

The poultry industry has had to euthanise stock that could not be moved to farms across the country for placement due to the violent riots.

During the past couple of days, the industry has been beset by violent mobs of thousands of people invading farms, stealing poultry livestock and equipment, destroying infrastructure, and endangering the lives of industry employees.

“Numerous cases of arson have been recorded, and threats to burning down large poultry processing plants have been real.

July 15 2021 - 13:42

WATCH | 'They saved the whole shop with cooking oil!': But three other centres lost to looters

On Sunday evening, the Müller Group's four shopping centres in KwaZulu-Natal were fully operational; on Thursday only one is intact, the other three having been stripped bare.

In one of them  the 15,000m2 Tugela Ferry Mall  the only shop that wasn’t looted was the Shoprite, thanks to quick-witted managers who grabbed bottles of oil from the shelves and poured it outside the store as the looters approached.

The widely shared video shows looters crashing to the floor as they hit the oil patch, to howls of laughter from the person taking the video.

July 15 2021 - 13:29

'What is important is our lives': Retailers hit by looting plot comeback

More than 31 of retail giant Massmart’s stores and facilities — including the massive Riverhorse Distribution Centre and the Makro in Springfield Park — have been destroyed.

“Most of them were Cambridge Food stores, all but four of them in KZN,” said the group’s corporate affairs executive Brian Leroni. “We’ve had a massive outpouring of support from our customers on our platforms.”

Massmart CEO Mitch Slape has since Monday been sending a nightly letter to all 48,000 of the group’s staff members. In Wednesday night’s one, he wrote: “It often happens in difficult situations that our emotions can go from very high to quite low.

July 15 2021 - 13:15

Minnie Dlamini says her family have 'run out of food' amid unrest in KZN

As violent protests continue in KwaZulu-Natal, TV personality Minnie Dlamini has told fans that her family have run out of food.

Taking to social media, Minnie said the situation was dire and her parents had been turned away from getting food, allegedly because they are black.

“The situation in Durban is completely out of hand. My parents are not allowed to buy food in their residential area because they are black! Mom called me [and] told me they have run out of food,” she posted on her Instagram stories.

July 15 2021 - 13:14

SK Khoza's fiancée Mandy Hlongwane falls victim to the looters

Many businesses have been affected by the pandemic and the recent looting that occurred after the incarnation of former president Jacob Zuma, and SK Khoza’s fiancée, Mandy Hlongwane, has become a part of that those statistics.

Mandy Hlongwane — who has been engaged to actor SK Khoza since December last year — is the CEO and founder of AMF dental services located in Germiston that got looted.

The surgery recently uploaded graphic images of their space being burnt to ashes and equipment ruined.

July 15 2021 - 13:12

POLL | Are you panic buying?

Looting and riots in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have resulted in several shopping malls being damaged and disruption to supply chains.

Over the past few days, the unrest has seen stores not looted slowly running out of stock, as many panic buy.

Addressing the nation on Monday amid the violence and destruction of properties in both provinces, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned of several risks if the situation was not resolved.

July 15 2021 -13:00

Community checkpoints set up to prevent looting are 'illegal' and 'recipe for disaster'

Legal experts say community checkpoints — set up by Durban residents to protect communities against unrest and looting — are illegal and contrary to the constitution.

Debate is raging on social media platforms about whether community checkpoints that have been set up in various Durban suburbs have fuelled racial tension and advocated racial profiling.

In some areas only residents are allowed access and can shop at stores that are open.

July 15 2021 - 12:43

Rioting and looting: fewer incidents being reported

Despite looting and damage to key infrastructure continuing on Wednesday night, the presidency says there are fewer incidents than before and more importantly  fewer incidents of violence. 

But there is concern about potential food shortages and members of the public who have armed themselves to protect property. 

In a statement released on Thursday morning, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said 208 incidents had been reported overnight, with 52 incidences of looting and vandalising of malls and shopping centres in Gauteng and 156 in KwaZulu-Natal.

July 15 2021 - 12:33

WhatsApp group links ANC members to looting chaos

Authorities are investigating evidence linking ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal to the violent protests that resulted in the deaths of more than 70 people and damage to property and infrastructure running into billions of rand.

The State Security Agency and the police are investigating several social media groups — including a WhatsApp group called SHUTDOWN ETHEKWINI, where ANC branch members from Durban allegedly discussed how to block highways and attack shopping malls to force the state to bow to their demands and release former president Jacob Zuma.

The group was started last Thursday, a day after Zuma was incarcerated for being in contempt of court.

July 15 2021 - 12:32

LISTEN | We would have died to save them, say taxi drivers who defended fun fair

With heavily armed gangs of marauding looters swarming across Vosloorus on Gauteng’s East Rand, destroying shopping malls and vandalising whatever they could not steal, a group of taxi drivers refused point blank to allow the protesters to destroy one thing — the travelling fun park in the community.

Armed with firearms, drivers and owners from the Katlehong People’s Taxi Association spent four days and nights protecting the terrified staff of Tommy’s World Fair.

Shortly before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the revival of lockdown level 4, the travelling fun fair, which has been in business for 60 years, had set up operations at the Chris Hani Crossing Mall.

July 15 2021 - 12:03

Two police reservists bust offloading alleged looted goods from state vehicle

Two police reservists in Soweto are among hundreds of people who have been arrested during the looting that affected mostly shopping malls in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng since the beginning of the week.

This was contained in the report by the National Joint Operational Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) released earlier this week.

Col Brenda Muridili said two on-duty reservist constables were found in possession of property alleged to have been stolen during the looting of businesses in Soweto on Tuesday.

July 15 2021 - 11:27

Looting puts SA's entire health system at risk amid third wave, Western Cape warns

The entire country's healthcare system is at risk from the disruption of supply chains caused by this week's looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape health chiefs warned on Thursday.

Head of health Keith Cloete said there were “significant risks for the entire supply chain”, including the delivery of medicines, as the third wave of Covid-19 approaches its peak in most of the country.

Speaking at a Covid-19 media briefing chaired by premier Alan Winde, Cloete said the national health department was considering what to do with vaccination supplies earmarked for KwaZulu-Natal, where looting has severely disrupted the rollout.

July 15 2021 - 10:59

Petrol containers outlawed as government urges motorists not to panic-buy

The government has outlawed the sale of petrol and diesel in portable containers, while discouraging panic-buying.

The department of mineral resources & energy said it was interacting with all energy and mining sector role players during the ongoing unrest engulfing some parts of the country and the temporary closure of the Sapref refinery in Durban.

“The DMRE assures the nation that while there are challenges with regards the movement of petroleum products to some parts of the country, there is sufficient product and government is working to secure the movement of all petroleum products.

July 15 2021 - 10:57

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala under fire after alleged assault video goes viral

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has come under fire for allegedly assaulting a young man believed to be linked to a looting incident in Phoenix. 

Zikalala was in Riverhorse Valley, north of Durban, on Wednesday where hundreds of looters had been targeting warehouses, trucks and businesses since Sunday.

A large SAPS and metro police contingent accompanied the premier, together with a handful of soldiers.

July 15 2021 - 10:18

WATCH | 'I couldn't leave her behind' — Mother speaks after throwing baby to safety from burning building

A two-year-old girl survived unharmed after her mother threw her to safety as they escaped a burning high-rise building in Durban during protests.

The mother, 26-year-old Naledi Manyoni, told Reuters on Wednesday she had been on the 16th floor when the fire started on Tuesday. She ran down the stairs with her daughter.

Manyoni made her way to a ledge above the street and tossed the toddler to a group of people below as bystanders cried out in consternation.

July 15 2021 - 10:16

From safety plans to arrests — here’s what eThekwini is doing in response to the unrest and riots

Several malls in eThekwini's townships have been damaged and looted,  according to the metro's mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, who briefed the media on Wednesday.

Kaunda said this has not only derailed efforts to build township economies but has also led to a jobs bloodbath. Kaunda pleaded for calm and unity amid racial tensions brewing in the province after the unrest.

The protests started last Friday with supporters of former president Jacob Zuma demanding his release from the Estcourt Correctional Centre.

July 15 2021 - 10:14

Mzansi split over taxi association calls to protect malls from looters

The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) has been applauded by many for deploying members to protect malls in Tshwane from possible looting, but the move has been slammed by others.  

The association announced this week that it had “taken over the protection of three malls in Soshanguve” and would protect businesses in the area from the looting that has gripped parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal since the weekend.

National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) spokesperson Brenda Muridili said on Wednesday 1,234 people had been arrested in connection with mass looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

July 15 2021 - 09:54

'How will I take care of my children?': Car dealership owner among business owners counting the costs of riots

After losing 53 cars during xenophobic attacks in SA in 2019, Johannesburg car dealership owner Okey Uchendu never thought he would see his business destroyed again by civil unrest in less than two years.

Already dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, Uchendu received a call at midnight on Sunday that his dealership was engulfed in flames as looting and violence, the worst in SA for years, escalated, wrecking hundreds of businesses.

“I'm speechless,” the 45-year old told Reuters on Wednesday standing next to 58 burnt cars. “I feel like committing suicide because my livelihood has been taken away from me. I was sitting crying, helpless because I can't do anything.”

July 15 2021 - 08:31

Gwede Mantashe criticised for calling looters 'thugs who want to get rich quick'

ANC chair Gwede Mantashe is at the receiving end of criticism for his claim that the ongoing looting of businesses has nothing to do with demands to release former president Jacob Zuma, but has become a get-rich-quick scheme by criminal elements. 

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika about the government's response to the unrest, Mantashe said: “I can assure you this is not anything to do with Zuma. It is everything to do with thugs who want to get rich quick and steal as much as they can, as soon as possible.”

Mantashe said it will take a long time to rebuild the economic infrastructure that has been destroyed, and that the working class and the poor will be affected most.

July 15 2021 - 08:29

Want to avoid riots and looting in Gauteng? This live tracker can help

Amid the ongoing riots and looting in parts of the province, Google Maps has added a live tracker function for Gauteng residents. 

The feature alerts drivers and residents to incidents happening in and around Gauteng and no-go areas in the province.

“Red areas are no-go areas for EMS [emergency medical services] as it is not safe. Do not make changes unless verified and sent through to the creator,” the feature states. 

July 15 2021 - 08:28

Insurance claims from riots seen at up to R10bn, says government insurer

Claims for damage and theft from businesses affected by civil unrest in SA are likely to be between R7bn and R10bn, the head of the only insurer covering political violence in the country told Reuters.

Days of riots and looting have left more than 70 people dead, hurt thousands of businesses and damaged major infrastructure in some of the worst civil unrest in decades.

Triggered by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma last week after he failed to appear at a corruption inquiry, it has widened into an outpouring of anger over poverty and inequality.

Sasria, a state-owned insurer set up after private firms stopped underwriting risks relating to political violence due to unrest during apartheid, has received around R100m in claims so far, its MD Cedric Masondo told Reuters, adding this was expected to rise significantly.

July 15 2021 - 07:47

KwaZulu-Natal facing a critical medicines shortage

A critical medicines shortage in KwaZulu-Natal is inevitable, given that scores of pharmacies have been looted and a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the province has been destroyed, along with two massive distribution warehouses.

That’s according to Jackie Maimin, CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacists Association. Independent pharmacies make up more than half the pharmacies in KZN.

“We will have to get medicines from other provinces, but the challenge is securing security escorts for those trucks,” she said.

July 15 2021 - 06:30

EDITORIAL | We’ve united in the best of times, and now we’re uniting in the worst of times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ...”

This line from the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities relates to the contrast between London and Paris during the French Revolution.

But yesterday it was a fitting description for the contradictory events unfolding in SA, as the wanton criminality of violent looters was met with an inspiring counterattack from crime-weary communities, who surged forth to take their streets back.

It was poetry in motion.

July 15 2021 - 06:20

SA in flames: spontaneous outbreak or insurrection?

South Africans spent most of mid-July glued to news outlets, from established media to TikTok, from streaming news to old-fashioned printed words, to see just one thing: would Jacob Zuma blink? Would the country finally get some taste of revenge for the state capture, looting, destruction of institutions and threats to the country’s democracy their former president had enabled and championed? Would the rule of law win?

Zuma blinked, with a few minutes to spare, and handed himself over to police. An hour or so later he was booked into a rather comfy looking “state-of-the-art correctional facility” in Estcourt (which had taken 17 years to refurbish).

July 15 2021 - 06:15

JONATHAN JANSEN | Poverty is not to blame for looting, a lack of values is

First, there is the good news. The storm will subside. We will reset as if nothing happened. That is the bad news. We will move on and not deal with the underlying causes of this massive stress test of our democratic state.

Until it happens again, we anguish, and then we forget, again. I asked friends living in the UK what they remember about Britain’s 2011 urban riots that their newspapers then described as “a defining contest between order and disorder” and a future prime minister observed as “disorder on a scale not seen in this country for many, many years”.

None of my UK friends remember those devastating riots. Bad news.

July 15 2021 - 06:10

TOM EATON | We know little, but we do know the ANC is desperate to cling to power

There is plenty we don’t know.

We don’t know, for example, the extent to which the violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is the inevitable result of grinding poverty and hopelessness, ignited by the jailing of a man who was genuinely loved by millions and who endlessly promised better days, and how much is a carefully planned attack on the state, opportunistically guiding the anger of the marginalised towards targets it has selected.

We don’t know why former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, instead of calling for a cessation of the violence and theft, was at pains to ask “the people that are protesting and looting, please do so carefully and please do so responsibly”.

We don’t know why “food riots” have, in startlingly many cases, turned to very thorough destruction of very specific targets, from community radio stations and clinics to port infrastructure.

July 15 2021 - 06:00

WATCH | ‘I will die for my community’: Taxi drivers fight back against looters

Taxi drivers guarding Vosloorus Mall on Gauteng's East Rand opened fire on looters with live ammunition. 

Members of the Katlehong People's Taxi Association have taken it upon themselves to protect malls around their communities. According to members, a group of 500 taxi drivers have mobilised to defend malls in the area.