Looters in Durban walk 11km as food shortages loom large

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As looting continued on South Coast Road in Mobeni in Durban was quelled by the police on Thursday morning.

Following three days of unrest, mass destruction and looting of businesses, the burning of trucks and warehouses in the area and other parts of KwaZulu-Natal, residents from neighbouring areas made their way to Mobeni for a loot.

Roads in Mobeni were littered with food, mostly tinned fish and rice. The looted businesses and warehouses include Tiger Brands and Bidvest.

Residents of Mobeni and surrounding areas continue to loot the goods that have piled South Coast Road in Durban. Photo: Rosetta Msimango/City Press

Law enforcement presence

As looters pushed trolleys filled to the brim with food, others sat on the roadside with large assortment of foods. The sound of gunshots saw many scramble to grab what they could and flee.

“As the SA Police Service (SAPS) we were given a directive to come to this area because there was a fear that these buildings might get burnt by looters, as we have seen in other places,” a police officer who identified himself only as Sibahle told City Press.

With no members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in sight, he added: “We do not know where the army is deployed to today, but they might be tired.”

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula deployed an additional 25 000 military personnel to restore order in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng amid the ongoing violence, looting and destruction.

The reinforcements came after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the deployment of the SANDF in efforts to restore law and order.

“We already have our soldiers on the ground in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. It’s 2 500 but the SANDF is doing all in its power to get more soldiers to deploy them,” Ramaphosa said at the time.

Threats of food shortages

Ignoring the gunshots, Mphindi Shezi (22) said she could not leave Mobeni without rice and tinned fish she had collected “for me and my child”.

For Shezi, who lives in Malukazi 11km away, walking to Mobeni was worth her while as the threat of a food shortage concerned her. “This is the fourth trip I have made to get some food,” she said.

She told City Press that both the Spar and Shoprite stores in her neighbourhood had been burnt to the ground.

“Some people from my area were here [in Mobeni] last night and told us about the food that we could pick up. I left my home for my first trip around 3am.”

South Coast Road in Mobeni is littered with looted goods. Photo: Rosetta Msimango

Phindile Khumalo, who lives in Mlazi, had in her makeshift trolley three trays of tinned fish as well as two 5kg bags of rice.

As sweat dripped down her face from the raging heat and her looting efforts, Khumalo said she had no choice but “to make a plan”.

“It will take me a while to get home, but I need the food because we do not know if we will have access to this necessity, anytime soon.”

With the crowd dispersed by the SAPS, it seemed the looting in Durban had calmed down slightly.

A Butchery Bakery Refrigeration and Catering Wholesale was torched and looted in Springfield, Durban. In Durban 45 000 business have been affected with R16 billion in stock stolen and damaged. Photo: Rosetta Msimango

Fuel shortages

Another concern for many was the threat of fuel shortages as the main arterial routes remain closed after more than 25 trucks were torched at the Mooi River Plaza last week.

Durban motorists rushed to fill up amid fears of fuel shortages. Photo Rosetta Msimango

While several petrol stations in Springfield, Durban and other areas closed after running out of fuel, scores of motorists in Bluff queued for more than a 1km hoping to fill up before “there is absolutely no more fuel”, motorist Mthunzi Simelane told City Press in Greyville.

“I am not just here to fill up my car, I have also come with my containers, just to try and have as much as I can.”

Simelane managed to fill his three containers.


Durban Metro Police spokesperson Parbhoo Sewpersadh confirmed that eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda had given a directive for members of the public who are patrolling and protecting entry and exit points in their areas to stand down.

However, community members in Bluff, Prestondale and Umhlanga Ridge were adamant that they could not adhere to this request.

Entry points into Bluff and Umhlanga Ridge were barricaded with concrete blocks and tyres, while armed community members refused non residents access.

“If you do not live here we will not let you in because this is one area which has not been affected [by looting] and we will not allow anyone who does not belong here entry,” said a Bluff resident who did not want to be named.


Palesa Dlamini 


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