Riots latest: SANDF ‘must guard critical supply chains’ to avoid crisis

With President Cyril Ramaphosa having authorised the deployment of a further 25 000 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members to assist police as they try to restore law and order to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, the Democratic Alliance (DA) have said that these extra forces need to be used efficiently. 

DA leader John Steenhuisen said on Thursday that KZN is facing an imminent food security crisis, with medication and fuel supplies also in jeopardy as motorists and residents flock to petrol stations and retailers to stock up 

DA welcomes extra SANDF deployment  

In a statement released on Thursday, Steenhuisen welcomed the SANDF deployment. 

“The next big crisis will be the threat to food security in KZN – along with the supply of medication and fuel – and protecting these supply chains must be a priority of the SANDF deployment,” he said. 

“With warehouses, bakeries and distribution centres looted or destroyed throughout the province, it is impossible to re-supply supermarkets and shops locally. And with trucks still being looted and burnt on the major arterial roads in the province, these supplies cannot reach the shops from elsewhere.”

Steenhuisen insisted that the SANDF troops on the ground in KZN need to be put to optimal use, and must prioritise the guarding of the N2 and N3 highways, along with other major routes and intersections, as well as to provide security for shops as they re-stock.

“The SANDF has the vehicles, equipment and personnel for this crucial task. And while they must also assist SAPS with law enforcement duties, protecting the province’s food security and supply chains must be a top priority,” said Steenhuisen. 

Food and fuel supply chains ‘must be protected’  

The DA leader added that as well as ensuring the protection of food supply chains, “it is critical that the province’s medical supply chains are restored and protected, as pharmacies, warehouses and medical practices throughout the province have also been ransacked”. 

“A shortage of chronic medication, medical consumables and oxygen supplies will have devastating effects,” he warned. “This same military protection must be applied to the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to vaccination sites so that the province’s vaccination programme can be restarted as soon as possible.”

Lastly, Steenhuisen demanded that petrol and diesel supply chains must receive equal protection by the SANDF.

“Already we are seeing fuel stocks running dangerously low and it is crucial to keep the province’s entire supply chain network fuelled up and operational,” he said. 

“Failure to restore and guard these three critical supply chains will see the looting that has mainly targeted retail stores, warehouses and factories until now move to residential areas, as hunger coupled with the suspension of SASSA grant payments inflames an already volatile situation.”

“The SANDF’s armoured vehicles, helicopters and troops can and must be used in this important role.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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