Food and fuel shortages hit parts of South Africa

There are long queues at food stores and petrol stations in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal as shortages are starting to hit the two provinces.

ENCA reported that people in Durban are scrambling to get fuel with some people queuing for hours to get into filling stations.

Many petrol stations have run out of fuel and do not know when they will get more fuel to serve their customers.

People in communities hit by looting say they are running out of basic essentials like bread, milk, and chronic medication.

SABC news reporter Ayanda Mhlongo said people in Durban are struggling to buy food as most stores are closed following the looting and vandalism.

People are now queuing for hours to buy food. The queuing starts early in the morning, from around 05:00, with people using camping chairs and blankets to make it more comfortable.

Long queues have also developed in areas that were hit by looting in Gauteng as people are looking to buy groceries.

Many shopping centres in these areas were looted and it will take a long time before they can reopen.

In Alexandra, thousands of people are queuing to wait their turn to be allowed into the Alex Mall to buy basic goods.

Makro looted
Makro looted

The food and fuel shortages do not come as a surprise. Experts warned of major food shortages in the wake of days of violent unrest across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal as rioters upended supply chains by looting supermarkets and torching goods trucks.

The unrest started with protests against the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, but soon degenerated into deadly and destructive rampages in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Rioters have appropriated food, electronic goods and medical supplies from at least 800 stores.

Footage of empty or sparse grocery-store shelves has been a staple of local news reports since the weekend, while chains such as Shoprite and Pick n Pay closed many outlets altogether.

In parts of Durban, which is at the center of the upheaval, long queues formed outside the few open food shops and basics such as bread and milk were in short supply.

“Food is going to be a problem because shops haven’t been open for three days and many with bulk storage have been looted,” said Gavin Hudson, chief executive officer of sugar producer Tongaat Hulett Ltd, which has suspended milling and refining operations outside the city.

“I think we are going to face some food issues in KwaZulu-Natal very shortly.”

More than 35 trucks have been destroyed, with a cost to logistics firms of at least R300 million and counting, the Road Freight Association estimates.

That’s led to the closing of a key highway between Durban and Johannesburg, cutting off the flow of food and other essential goods from the country’s biggest port to its most populous city.

Citrus farmers are in mid-export season and are among those unable to harvest and transport their produce, Christo van der Rheede, executive director of AgriSA, said in an interview.

Sugarcane fields have been razed and livestock stolen, and commitments on exports that bring in crucial foreign exchange and support jobs may not be met, he said.

“South Africans are very fortunate to receive fresh fruit, fresh meat, fresh vegetables on a daily basis,” he said.

“If these supply chains are disrupted, there won’t be fresh produce in stores and people will have to rely on frozen supplies. But what do we do if we run out of that as well?”

The videos below provide an overview of the challenges faced in areas where criminals looted stores and vandalised shopping centres.

Fuel shortage in Durban

Food shortage in Durban

Queueing for food in Alexandra

Queue outside Alex Mall

Checkers in Durban North

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Food and fuel shortages hit parts of South Africa