More groups call for state of emergency in South Africa

With incidents of criminality continuing in areas across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the beer industry is calling on the national government to urgently declare a state of emergency and drastically increase the number of South African Defence Force (SANDF) officers deployed in hot spot areas in these provinces.

This echoes similar calls from the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, the Durban Chamber of Commerce, and the former national director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli.

“President Ramaphosa needs to act now to save what is left of our industry or the country will face the prospect of devastating job losses throughout the beer value chain,” the Beer Association of South Africa said.

“This has included scores of liquor outlets, depots, warehouses, distribution centres and specialised manufacturing facilities being targeted, which is threatening the total collapse of the alcohol industry that is already on its knees due to the four alcohol bans that have been enforced over the past 16 months.”

The group said early estimates show that 600 retail and liquor stores have been damaged, and in some cases, destroyed with conservative estimates indicating direct damages amounting to billions of rands.

“Heineken’s Pinetown warehouse was looted on Sunday and cleaned out by Tuesday. All office equipment, IT equipment, batteries and tyres from trucks were stolen. Crates, empty bottles and stock were also taken. Heineken’s preliminary estimation of losses suffered is in the millions.

“Furthermore, two SAB depots in KwaZulu-Natal were also looted and set alight today. There is a fear that the other three remaining SAB facilities in the province will also be targeted. Courier companies carrying alcohol and raw material such as malt for export have also been attacked.”

While private security companies have tried to protect these facilities they have been overwhelmed by the number of looters and have received very little support from the SANDF and South African Police Service (SAPS), due to their own lack of capacity on the ground.

The association said that the attacks on the Heineken and SAB facilities have resulted in losses amounting to millions of rands.

“It is therefore critical that government declares a state of emergency as a matter of urgency and deploys more SANDF troops across both provinces to support law enforcement agencies to restore law and order in hotspot areas.”

Constiutional obligation

Former national director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli has started a petition to encourage President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency to stop the unrest and looting.

“45 people have already died. The police are shot at. Shopping malls are being looted, and others set on fire. The economy is being destroyed,” Pikoli said.

He added that South Africans are likely to experience food, fuel, and medical supplies shortages.

“(This) takes us to section 37 of the constitution that allows the president to declare a state of emergency”.

“The state has a constitutional obligation to protect innocent lives and businesses. The economy is under attack, and infrastructure is being destroyed,” he said.

He said that while a state of emergency will limit people’s rights, these drastic measures are necessary to curb the spate of violence and looting seen in recent days.

Not the right time

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that the government will consider instituting a state of emergency if it deems it necessary to quell the violent protests and looting currently being seen in Gauteng and KZN.

In a media briefing on Tuesday morning (13 July), Mapisa-Nqakula said that the decision to declare a state of emergency rests with president Cyril Ramaphosa, but that the department of defence does not think the country has reached that point yet.

She further cautioned that the introduction of a state of emergency came with serious consequences – including the loss of people’s liberties as the South African National Defence Force takes over to restore order.

Read: Food shortages on the way after rioters rampage in South Africa

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More groups call for state of emergency in South Africa