Riots, looting cost the KwaZulu-Natal economy R20 billion

The wave of looting and arson attacks last week cost the KwaZulu-Natal economy alone more than R20-billion and has placed more than 150 000 jobs in the province at risk.

Around 40 000 formal businesses in the province were affected in the week of violence, which also negatively impacted more than 50 000 informal traders, the vast majority of whom were not insured.

The latest assessment of the extent of the damage caused in what the government has now characterised as an attempted insurrection, was allegedly carried out by supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, who is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt at the Estcourt Correctional Centre.

In a briefing on Tuesday, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said assessments of the cost of the damage in Gauteng were still being carried out by the South African Special Risk Insurance Association.

In KwaZulu-Natal, both the Durban and Richards Bay harbours were now fully operational, as were the rail and road links between Durban and the rest of the country.

Ntshavheni said the country was “well on the trajectory to stability” with no incidents of looting and violence reported in either KwaZulu-Natal or Gauteng over the past 24 hours.

The South African National Defence Force deployment in support of the police would, she said, continue until “we all feel that we are safe in our homes” in order to discourage any further attempts at violence and looting.

Ntshavheni said three alleged instigators were being held pending bail hearings. Among them is former Ukhozi FM presenter Ngizwe Mchunu, who will appear in court in Randburg on Wednesday, after being arrested in Durban on Monday.

She said that while the initial number of alleged instigators stood at 12, this may change as investigations continued.

“Whether there were 12, or 24 or 100 they will be arrested. They will get the concomitant legal penalty that they must face for bringing this country into the kind of danger that they have,” Ntshavheni said.

Around 200 people had appeared in Gauteng courts for public violence and theft, with the stolen items that had been recovered being held by police for use as evidence, she added.

Economic cluster ministers were busy putting together details of a relief package which could be used to help businesses — particularly those with no insurance — get back on their feet.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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