South Africa Faces Food And Fuel Shortage Crisis

Community leaders in areas affected by the week-long violent protests have addressed residents to end the looting in South Africa to allow the country to thrive.

The unrest was sparked by last week’s imprisonment of ex-President Jacob Zuma, which spiralled into days of looting in two of the country’s nine provinces.

South Africa’s police say 72 people have been killed and 1,234 have been arrested in waves of rioting that have hit the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

“We have to come together take the responsibility and protect what’s left of our township economy and our communities because looting has literally robbed us of our township economy,” said one community leader Nhlanhla Lux, who spoke to locals near the Maponya Mall.

People in the affected provinces have complained of difficulty in accessing food items and fuel. The looting has hit supply chains and transport links in the Johannesburg region, and the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, sending a shockwave to goods and services around the country. Stores that have not been looted have indefinitely shut down till the crisis is under control.

In 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, according to an AFP photographer.

The night before, the country’s largest refinery, Sapref, declared “force majeure” – an emergency beyond its control – and shuttered its plant in Durban, shutting down 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.

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

The deployment of 2,500 soldiers to support the South African police has helped to slow down the rampant looting. Although unrest continued to be reported in some areas of Johannesburg, including Vosloorus in the eastern part of the city.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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