By Kaya 959 News
The beer industry has joined the growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency.
Two of the country’s major business hubs, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, have been overrun by looters in the wake of #FreeZuma protests.
In Gauteng, looters have destroyed some shopping malls while in KZN; shopping centres, factories and warehouses were torched.
“Our call echoes that of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, the Durban Chamber of Commerce, and the former National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Vusi Pikoli. 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,” said the Beer Association of South Africa’s Nicole Mirkin.
A country in turmoil
She said over the last few days, they have seen the country in turmoil with thousands of businesses and jobs being destroyed by mobs of looters and arsonists.
“This has included scores of liquor outlets, depots, warehouses, distribution centres and specialised manufacturing facilities being targeted, which is threatening 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.”
Mirkin said reports indicate that over 600 retail and liquor stores have been damaged and in some cases, destroyed.
She added that conservative estimates indicate direct damages amounting to billions of Rands.
“Heineken’s Pinetown warehouse 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.”
SAB depots looted
On Tuesday, two SAB depots in KZN were also looted and torched.
Mirkin said 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.”
She said 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 SAPS, due to their own lack of capacity on the ground.
It is estimated that the attacks on the Heineken and SAB facilities has resulted in losses amounting to millions of Rands.
“The industry has already been devastated as a result of the four blanket alcohol bans which put 233 547 jobs at risk with a tax revenue loss of R34.2 billion and R10.2 billion lost in excise revenue. The latest attacks will further negatively impact the million livelihoods that the industry supports,” Mirkin said.