Government has paid out R1.5bn to businesses hit by July looting: Patel
The government has paid out R1.5bn to businesses in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal that were looted during the violent pro-Jacob Zuma unrest in July.
This comes after a commitment from President Cyril Ramaphosa that the government would support the businesses. Some had to shut their doors due to the damage and losses.
Updating the media on Tuesday about the economic relief package, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel said the looting left enormous economic damage in its wake.
Patel said they worked with different sectors of the economy to help the recovery process.
“As of today, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Empowerment Fund, together as part of the department of trade and industry, has approved R1.5bn in direct support in 123 separate concessions.
“These transactions have been where the company or the association or an intermediary puts forward an application for support. It is not only 123 sites. In fact, in a number of cases its more than one site that has been affected. One business owner may have a petrol station in two towns that were affected,” he said.
Patel said in total they supported 320 business sites which employed around 30,800 workers.
“We have also worked with some associations and groups. If I take the example of the sugar industry, we have received an application from sugar farmers whose cane in many cases was burnt. They suffered other damage and the IDC has made available R85m to cover 192 sugar farmers.
“This is over and above the number I have given you now of R1.5bn. The reason we count it separately is that this has been approved, and we are making sure that money goes through the system up to the final beneficiary. As it gets to each beneficiary, the small-scale farmer, we will aggregate it to our total numbers,” he said.
They have also worked with the Solidarity Fund, which has contributed R150m to help with recovery of the economy, Patel said.
“Key infrastructure, commercial infrastructure in particular, was damaged. The livelihoods of ordinary South Africans were deeply undermined. You had not only business owners staring ruin in the face but many workers were left with premises that were burnt or looted. In that context we need to move with some speed.”
He said they were working to rebuild infrastructure, like industrial parks and big malls, that have been affected by the looting.