Beer industry calls on government to declare a state of emergency

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE BEER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA

13 July 2021

KZN and Gauteng unrest: Beer industry calls on government to declare a state of emergency

With incidents of criminality continuing in areas across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the beer industry is calling on the national government to urgently declare a state of emergency and drastically increase the number of South African Defence Force (SANDF) officers deployed in hot spot areas in these provinces. The last few days have seen the country in turmoil with thousands of businesses and jobs being destroyed by mobs of looters and arsonists. The most recent media reports have also indicated that the current death toll due to this violence has risen to 72. 

Our call echoes that of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, the Durban Chamber of Commerce, and the former National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Vusi Pikoli. President Ramaphosa needs to act now to save what is left of our industry or the country will face the prospect of devastating job losses throughout the beer value chain.

This has included scores of liquor outlets, depots, warehouses, distribution centres and specialised manufacturing facilities being targeted, which is threatening the total collapse of the alcohol industry that is already on its knees due to the four alcohol bans that have been enforced over the past 16 months.

Reports indicate that over 600 retail and liquor stores have been damaged, and in some cases, destroyed with conservative estimates indicating direct damages amounting to billions of Rands. Heineken’s Pinetown warehouse was looted on Sunday and cleaned out by today. All office equipment, IT equipment, batteries and tyres from trucks were stolen. Crates, empty bottles and stock were also taken. Heineken’s preliminary estimation of losses suffered is in the millions.

Furthermore, two SAB depots in KwaZulu-Natal were also looted and set alight today. There is a fear that the other three remaining SAB facilities in the province will also be targeted.  Courier companies carrying alcohol and raw material such as malt for export have also been attacked.

While private security companies have tried to protect these facilities they have been overwhelmed by the number of looters and have received very little support from the SANDF and South African Police Service (SAPS), due to their own lack of capacity on the ground.  It is estimated that the attacks on the Heineken and SAB facilities has resulted in a losses amounting to millions of Rands.

The industry has already been devastated as a result of the four blanket alcohol bans which put 233 547 jobs at risk with a tax revenue loss of R34.2 billion and R10.2 billion lost in excise revenue. The latest attacks will further negatively impact the million livelihoods that the industry supports. 

With unemployment the worst it has been in South Africa in years, the violence and destruction seen over the past few days will only exacerbate this problem resulting in thousands more South Africans living in poverty.

It is therefore critical that government declares a state of emergency as a matter of urgency and deploys more SANDF troops across both provinces to support law enforcement agencies to restore law and order in hotspot areas. 

Media Enquiries:
Nicole Mirkin (Press Officer)
084 552 3122

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