Zuma Unrest: Some shops allowing only limited number of items as food, fuel shortages choke Durban

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  • Days of violent unrest and looting has spawned a possible food and fuel crisis for Durban residents.
  • Long queues could be seen across the city at petrol stations and shops spared in the bedlam.
  • Some stores were rationing supplies to avoid panic buying.

The devastating aftermath of a wash of unrest and looting has resulted in fears of a food and fuel crisis in Durban.

Motorists and shoppers were seen queuing at petrol stations and grocery stores, flocking to the few places spared by the unrest – and still open for business.

News24 is tracking active looting sites spread across the city and the suburbs that surround it. At Makro in Springfield Park, a crowd numbering in the thousands has overwhelmed the police.

READ | Zuma unrest: SSA looking at possibilities of xenophobic violence and right-wing extremism

Long queues were seen at Spar outlets in Morningside, La Lucia, Umgeni Park, Durban North and Overport, with groceries rationed to prevent panic buying. At Morningside's Avondale Spar, a Berea resident who asked not to be photographed or named said he queued from 06:00 to 11:00 to get staples for his family.

He said:

I was allowed 20 items. I got potatoes, butternut, milk, eggs and stuff like that. It was worth the wait. I don't know when the shops will open again.

Fellow resident Cogi Simpson said: "I haven't got a slice of bread at home. I must wait. Normally I take it for granted that I can walk across the road to the Spar. I am so grateful to the people who stood outside last night looking after us. There were gunshots but the residents were patrolling."

WATCH | Pietermaritzburg mall goes up in flames amid looting, riots

Petrol stations – also targeted by rioters – have closed en masse in the city, sparking fears of a fuel shortage. Tankers transporting fuel have been pulled from the roads amid the violence.

People flee from the Springfiled Park Mall in Durb
People flee from the a mall in Springfield Park in Durban amid looting and riots.

Sbonelo Mbatha, co-founder of PetroCONNECT and a former chairperson of the Fuel Retailers' Association, said all fuel supply in the province has been halted.


"I never thought I would see anything like this. All fuel supply in KZN has been halted because it is not safe. What you are going to see in KZN is what you saw in Zimbabwe a few years ago," he said, adding:

People are going to get stuck on the road. Very few service stations operating, and unless we can get back to normality soon it is going to be chaos.

"The ripple effect is huge. The entire economy comes to a standstill. I don't even know how to describe it. Imagine no money in ATMs, no bread. You need trucks to transport food and medicine.

"The trucks need fuel. People are going to starve to death. The after-effects of this are going to be severe. Right now we still have food. Give it a week. See how you will battle for simple items," he added.

Mbatha has been impacted on a personal level by the unrest, which has seen three of the nine petrol stations he owns attacked and vandalised on Monday. One in Inanda, north of Durban, valued at R12 million was completely gutted.

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