The destruction caused during the recent unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal has been severe for some businesses. A businessman who had his three garages looted and burnt in the province says his loss is estimated at around R40 million.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen visited various businesses in Durban to assess the extent of the damage.

Sbonelo Mbatha, who owned fuel stations in KwaMashu, Dube Village in the iNanda area and Bhamshela outside oThongathi, says one of his businesses needs to be completely rebuilt. All three of his businesses were destroyed.

“I have had three of my sites that were greatly affected, this one being the worst, one because it was completely burnt down. As you can see there is another one in Bhamshela which was completely destroyed, one site in KwaMashu it can still be rescued. We are thinking of getting our technicians to replace computer equipment. The entire damage can be estimated at about R40 million as things stand.”

Richard Baker at Phoenix north of Durban says at some stage during the unrest police allegedly ran out of ammunition.

“It was a very scary situation when we arrived that Monday morning the looting had already started late that evening after [President] Ramaphosa addressed the nation. When we got there police were already basically on stand-off and we were being asked and told that unfortunately, the police could not do anything because they did not have any ammunition. They were asking us as members with licenced firearms if we even have bullets if we could give them ammunition in order to help. We were worried because the number of people that were there was crazy and all we could do is to barricade our area off by us standing there. We understood those police officers, there was nothing they could do. They were standing against their vehicles and looters were running past them.”

Dolly Munien from oThongathi area north of Durban, says during the unrest they came together with residents from their nearest informal settlement to protect their shops.

“During this unrest, there was no way to turn to but we had to call other civics together from informal settlements to work together. It was not about political parties but community safety first. We got all different parties in that meeting and they said let’s join hands together and stand at the entrance area making sure that there is not going to be any looting, no disturbance.”

Steenhuisen says ministers serving within the security cluster should be held accountable for allegedly letting the public down during the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

“Now is the time for accountability and I think the security cluster, from the president, they have let him down. I think it is wrong that so many people died, billions of rands were lost to the economy, our international image was badly dented from an investor perspective. There have to be consequences. There has to be a meeting between the opposition leaders, between Mr Ayanda and Bheki Cele so we can get them in the same room and find out who knew what when they knew it, and what they did about it.”

Steenhuisen engages with communities in KwaZulu- Natal following the unrest in the province: 

The situation is now calm in KwaZulu-Natal – but it will take time for some businesses to be able to operate again, leaving their employees without an income.