Trucks delivering food and other essential items are being given armed police escorts to ensure that violence and unrest do not disrupt important supply chains, says acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
Over the past few days, the main routes in KZN have been blocked by protesters with stones and other dangerous items, she said.
“Of key concern is the effect on the supply chain value-chain and movement of goods from Durban and Richards Bay ports to various destinations.
“The members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been deployed specifically to protect the national key points and the South African Police Service (SAPS) are providing escorts for the transportation of the supplies of oxygen, medicines and other key goods that have to reach all parts of the country.”
“We wish to address those who are still undertaking the road blockage to desist from doing so because it is the poor, vulnerable and marginalized who will suffer as a result of their actions.
“The impact of the looter’s actions will be felt more by the poor and middle class as many people stand a chance of losing their livelihoods,” she said.
Ntshavheni said that ministers of the economic and infrastructure cluster are working with industry to ensure the restoration of supply value chains, movements of goods and restoration of ports operations.
This includes the reopening on the N2 and N3 to ensure the movement of goods, she said.
The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) has said that this protection is necessary to provide for the safe passage of delivery vehicles and employees, in restoring the supply of food, pharmaceutical and medical supplies to areas affected by looting.
The CGCSA said is particularly concerned about the impact of the disruptions on food security across the country, and is calling on the government’s support to avert an emerging humanitarian crisis.
“The appeal comes following the widespread destruction of, and damage to, food and other manufacturing facilities, supermarkets and grocery stores as well as distribution infrastructure in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) and parts of Gauteng.
“Noting the welcome reduction in looting incidents over the past 24 hours, CGCSA remains concerned that the situation remains far from stable.
“As CGCSA members are assessing the losses and damage caused, they are also rebuilding capacity to resume serving customers as soon as possible.”