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Mabuza says state insurance payouts will help rebuild businesses in violence-hit KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

The government expects the state’s South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) to fund businesses affected by the violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last month to the tune of R10-billion.

Deputy President David Mabuza, responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday, said Sasria was assessing businesses looted and burned in the attacks. 

He said that although the assessment was not yet complete, Sasria would probably contribute about R10-billion, over and above the R2.3-billion re-prioritised by the government to assist with relief efforts.

Mabuza acknowledged that “the resources that we have made available are not enough to deal with all the problems that have been created” and that payouts from Sasria would be essential in helping businesses get back on their feet.

The trade, industry and competition department had re-prioritised R700-million and the small business department R300-million to immediately assist businesses across the spectrum in rebuilding, he said.

Trade and industry had also re-allocated a further R1.3-billion to assist with rebuilding of shopping centres, malls and other businesses that had been destroyed.

Mabuza said “no amount of grievance” could justify the looting and destruction that took place, pegging the damage to infrastructure and the commercial sector at about R15-billion.

Small towns in KwaZulu-Natal were particularly badly affected and were now dependent on intervention by the state if they were to be able to rebuild. 

The provincial government had developed a plan to reconstruct these economic corridors, in which township malls, small town business districts and rural shopping centres had been devastated.

Mabuza said the government would “up its game in trying to protect citizens, protect businesses and protect lives” and would “stand ready” for any such attacks in future.

He said while “at face value” the riots were sparked by the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, it was necessary to thoroughly investigate the causes of what happened, and the “plan” that was involved.

The security sector could have done better in acting to prevent the destruction and would be strengthened to improve the capacity to gather intelligence early and act upon it, he added.

“This won’t happen again. We will be ready next time around,”’ Mabuza vowed.

He said the rampant lawlessness during the unrest and the killing of Africans by Indians in Phoenix were a “major setback” to attempts to achieve social cohesion and build a stable South Africa.

More than 35 people had been arrested for the murders, and peace committees had been set up involving residents of Phoenix and neighbouring areas, including Bhambhayi and Inanda.

The Religious, Cultural and Linguistic Rights Commission was holding hearings to investigate the cause of the tensions in Phoenix and would report back on steps to rebuild social cohesion in the area, the deputy president said.

Turning to questions about the recent explosion at unit 4 of Eskom’s Medupi power station just a week after the plant was finally completed, Mabuza said the investigation was looking at whether it was the result of human error, incompetence or sabotage.

Mabuza said Eksom had placed employees on precautionary suspension, pending the outcome of the investigation, which would be concluded “soon.”

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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