The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry is calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in KwaZulu-Natal. The looting has left businesses across the province crippled.

Several large retail warehouses have also been torched.

The chamber’s President, Mpume Langa, says damages in the city have so far been estimated at R20 billion.

“We are calling for the army to be deployed in KZN as the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry because businesses who are our members who are operating here in KZN have been impacted by the looting. The impact has been far worse for the businesses beyond measure at this point in time, we have crossed more than R20 billion, it had been quantified today that it still continues. As businesses, we need to bring back the rule of law.

People are just doing as they wish, there is no law enforcement on-site anywhere. If this doesn’t get controlled I cannot imagine how we can recover from this as the province of KZN. Business is suffering because retail shops are not open with warehouses being damaged and destroyed. How are we going to get food to feed our families and our essentials for medical purposes we need help?”

Looters arrested 

Meanwhile, members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and police have arrested people suspected to have looted goods at the Value Warehouse Logistics in Cato Ridge west of Durban. The warehouse has also been torched.

It is believed to employ over 3 500 workers, many of them from nearby areas such as Hammersdale.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, is at the scene.

“No, this is surprising. This is bad, it cannot be accepted. We are now enforcing the soldiers are on the ground, we are going on the ground ourselves with the police and the soldiers, we are not going to accept this thing. This is undermining government itself. It undermines government, it undermines business and we cannot allow the situation where the country is just becoming a banana republic – it can’t happen.”

Earlier on Wednesday, two people were killed after a taxi crashed into a stationary truck in Cato Ridge. The chaotic scene was near the Value Logistics Warehouse where there has been looting. The area is still a hive of activity because people have been looting since late afternoon yesterday.

KZN Premier Zikalala visits recently looted, vandalised Value Logistics warehouse in Cato Ridge:

Haux messages 

The Community Police Forum at Tongaat North of Durban has advised residents to refrain from circulating hoax messages. This as a number of fake messages have been doing the rounds on social media resulting in emergency services and police being called out to no actual incidents.

The forum’s spokesperson, Nazir Sadeck, says with the recent riots and looting across the province it is very important to keep all lines of communication with police and emergency services open.

“There’s a lot of messages going around in terms of houses being burnt and shops being looted and attacks taking place and almost most of them seem to be hoax messages and unconfirmed reports and when emergency services get to the actual scene itself they find that there’s nothing taking place which is of concern because we wasting actual resources and that is leaving areas which are more vulnerable to these protestors.”

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Chatsworth Community Policing Forum, Jakes Singh, says the situation in residential areas is not as violent as portrayed on social media.

Last night worrying calls of distress circulated on social media saying homes in Units Five and Seven in Chatsworth, south of Durban were being looted and petrol-bombed. But Singh says while there were invaders in the area the patrol members were able to diffuse the situation.

“They getting messages from Joburg and from other areas and putting it out onto us and creating panic. We never had any houses that were burnt or whatever it is. As soon as there was an incident there, our patrollers gathered around and we rushed to the scene and only discovering there’s nothing happening there. Yes, there were invaders, there these criminals that came in there and then tried to get into properties but we warded them off and we traced them down.” -Additional reporting Nonkululeko Hlophe and Vusi Khumalo