Two days of panic buying from nervous consumers has ended in suburbs of Johannesburg north as relative calm returned following days of unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

On Tuesday, most supermarkets in Northriding were out of staple foods like bread, maize meal, cake flour and rice. But by Thursday afternoon, it was business as usual for most stores.

Local SuperSpar manager, Keith Dangala, says they are fortunate to have big storage facilities where they can store enough stock to cover them for weeks.

“We have not been affected much today (Thursday) but Wednesday was very busy as the biggest mall in the area was closed down for security reasons. So we had a lot of foot traffic in the afternoon as consumers were uncertain about the situation going forward.”

Dangala says by Thursday morning life had gone back to normal. “We still have our shelves fully stocked, the only thing that got sold out is rusks, I guess that is because of the cold weather more than anything.”

Northgate Mall was relatively empty with less foot traffic than normal due to early closure on Wednesday after security concerns raised by the local police.

Management at the mall says they didn’t want take risks. “It was a precautionary measure on our part, we decided to be pro-active instead of being re-active.”

Petrol stations operating as per normal

A couple of petrol stations in the area didn’t have any queues by Thursday afternoon, a stark contrast from scenes that played out on Wednesday as motorists queued patiently to fill their tanks.

A petrol station manager speaking on condition of anonymity says they received 96 000 litres of fuel delivery on Wednesday evening and have enough to keep them going for the coming days.

Joburg north’s gallery of empty shelves:

Wednesday panic buying from residents left grocery shelves empty at local supermarkets. (Pictures by Dinilohlanga Mekuto)

Bread, Eggs, Flour still in demand

Though most supermarkets in the area had stocked up on bread, oil, eggs and meat, two Woolworths grocery stores had no meat in their fridges. Another had no bread whatsoever, whilst the other had a few loaves of bread on the shelves.

In a media briefing earlier on Wednesday, acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, assured South Africans that there were no immediate threats of food shortages in the country amid the looting and destruction of property in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

While incidents of looting were reported on Thursday, the situation is slowly returning to normal as some community members have started cleaning up shoppings hubs that were affected by the looting.

The riots erupted after the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma for violating a Constitutional Court order.

Clean-up operations in full swing in Gauteng following unrest: