By Hajira Khota
Violence and looting in parts of South Africa reflect more profound issues in the continent’s most developed economy, where a third pandemic lockdown exacerbates economic pain and joblessness that has disproportionately impacted the poor.
Since former President Jacob Zuma’s arrest last week, there has been chaos and looting. Initially, the demonstration claimed to be a plea for the former presidents’ release; unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated into criminal activity.
A fresh produce store was destroyed after seven years of hard labour in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. The store included a butchery and bakery in addition to fruit and vegetables and weekend specials sold.
Yusuf Rahman, manager of Premier Fresh, says that it was heartbreaking to watch his stores go up in flames and be left with nothing.
“Everything has been damaged, and staff had to be put away. We lost millions of rands worth of stock, says Rahman”.
Due to this, residents found it extremely difficult to shop for essentials as this was one of the stores that have been looted and set alight in the area, making it inconvenient and costly to travel further for essentials.
“A lot of residents are unhappy and disappointed because they depend on us for our low prices and freshness, says Rahman”.
Rahman says that they intend to open up their store again, but he is still unsure where they will go from here.
Rioters damaged property during Level 4 lockdown, set vehicles alight, and destroyed commercial premises, with significant targets for liquor shops.
Many of South Africa’s small, medium, and micro-businesses are not insured, complicating attempts to recoup their losses after the turmoil. On the other hand, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng account for half of the country’s GDP and nearly half of its population, with many damaged companies anticipated taking years to restore.
As companies pick up the pieces after several days of violence and looting, businesses have to choose whether to stay in a failing economy or cut their losses.