Former National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli and the beer industry have called on the government to declare a state of emergency amidst civil unrest.
Pikoli 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.
“The police are overwhelmed and outnumbered, and people are losing their jobs,” he said.
Pikoli said the violence “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.
— Canny Maphanga (@CannyMaphanga) July 13, 2021
The Beer Association of South Africa has joined Pikoli in calling on the national government to urgently declare a state of emergency.
It also wants government to drastically increase the number of South African Defence Force (SANDF) officers deployed in hot spot areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“Our call echoes that of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, the Durban Chamber of Commerce, and Pikoli,” the association said.
“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.”
It said scores of liquor outlets, depots, warehouses, distribution centres and specialised manufacturing facilities are targeted by rioters.
The looting threatens 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.
“Reports indicate that over 600 retail and liquor stores have been damaged, and in some cases, destroyed,” it said.
The Beer Association said conservative estimates indicate direct damages amounting to billions of rands.
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Heineken’s Pinetown warehouse, for example, was looted on Sunday and cleaned out by today.
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.
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 police.