In a briefing on Saturday afternoon, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said there were encouraging signs amid the ongoing struggles to rebuild the economy of his province following last week’s rioting, sabotage and looting, which left more than R20 billion in damage in eThekwini alone.
He expressed the view that the province would emerge from the violence more united and stronger than ever, and “ready to rise again”.
Almost all sectors across the economy had been heavily affected.
He said that the unrest had affected eThekwini (Durban) and Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) worst.
eThekwini had lost stock of R1.5 billion, with loss to property of R15 billion. More than 50,000 informal traders and 40,000 businesses had been affected. More than 150,000 jobs had been put at risk.
“Preliminary estimates suggest that the impact on the eThekwini GDP suggest will be about R20 billion.”
The premier said many rural towns had also been badly impacted. However, he said that the increase in traffic on roads suggested that there was an ongoing return to normality.
The shutdown in economic activity had badly affected the province’s overall GDP, with economic output reduced by millions every hour just due to the shutdown of the N3 highway alone.
He confirmed the destruction and/or vandalism of 89 malls and shopping centres, one hospital, 45 warehouses, 22 factories, eight banks, 88 ATMs, 89 liquor outlets and eight liquor distributors, 37 delivery trucks and 139 schools.
“Apart from the physical destruction of property, the shutdown of economic activity has badly affected the overall economic output.
“The social cost has also been very high,” with the unrest affecting cohesion and racial tolerance.
“The majority of our towns are already experiencing severe shortage while about 32% are at a moderate food shortage. Only 4% are reported to have enough food supply.”
Zikalala said they were considering the possibility of declaring a state of disaster in the province.
He contended that stability and order had largely returned, but authorities remained on full alert. He expressed concerns about vigilante group murders, including in Inanda, Verulam and Phoenix, where 38 people had died.
He expressed support for the detective work of the SA Police Service to apprehend those responsible.
“Those who died in the unrest include Africans in the majority, and Indians.”
He said arrests were critical in enforcing the rule of law without fear or favour.
Many of the deaths were caused by people being trapped in burning buildings or stampedes during wide-scale looting, with at least 250 people reported to have died so far.
Zikalala said that government would be initiating a programme to rebuild social cohesion in the province, particularly between Africans and Indians.
163 cases of murder were being investigated in the province, with 87 inquest dockets having been opened. Twenty murder cases were opened.
Ethekwini recorded 110 murders, largely due to stabbings and shootings, with another 20 in uMgungundlovu.
2,763 suspects had been arrested, mostly for being in possession of stolen goods.
The operation of neighbourhood watch forums would be more closely analysed and regulated in future.
Watch the premier’s full briefing below: