Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited. Photo: File
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited. Photo: File

Business 101: Protecting your business from riots and disaster

By Ben Bierman Time of article published Jul 25, 2021

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THE unrest that began in KwaZuluNatal and spread to other parts of the country has come at a great cost to local businesses and the economy.

EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda estimated that the loss of stock and damaged infrastructure caused by the looting and riots, which started in early July, stands at around R160 billion.

The South African Property Owners Association estimates that more than 45 000 businesses and 50 000 informal traders were affected.

While no one could have predicted the scale of the riots and the effect it would have on businesses, there are some protective measures than can be taken against such events.

Be Prepared For Any Eventuality South Africa has a high unemployment rate and remains one of the most unequal countries in the world with a Gini coefficient of 63.0. Dissatisfaction within communities will continue until the challenges are sufficiently addressed. As a business owner, it is important to plan and be prepared for any eventuality.

Network And Work Together With Your Community

It is inspiring how communities pulled together to protect property and businesses and to clean up. A lesson from this is the value of working together with other business owners, your community and community structures. Keep abreast of happenings in your community and look out for news updates and advice from the security agencies. Participate in your community platforms and work with the SAPS, security companies and community to develop a (re)action plan for your area.

Invest in Reliable Security Systems

This will offer you a better chance of acquiring evidence in the case of looting or damage caused by a riot. Having evidence that can corroborate your claim might help fast-track the process of compensation. Security cameras can also serve as a deterrent to crime, dissuading potential looters from targeting your business in future.

Emergency Planning

It is prudent to have an emergency plan that outlines evacuation and quick access to emergency numbers for law enforcement or a private security company. It’s important to assure employees that their safety comes first. Having an emergency policy in place will help employees feel safeguarded and as prepared as possible.

Revisit your Insurance Cover Insurance has been foremost in the minds of many small-and-mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) owners during this difficult time. Some entrepreneurs may weigh up the cost of business insurance and forgo selecting the most comprehensive cover, because the likelihood of large-scale stock or property damage is not considered high.

But, depending on the level of cover and the terms and conditions of the policy, commercial insurance can cover damage to assets, loss related to theft, loss of revenue following a business interruption and legal liabilities.

State-owned insurer, South African Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria) is reported to be shouldering the bulk of the burden with regard to insurance claims linked to the looting. Most commercial insurers sell policies with a Sasria clause that provides cover for damage caused by a riot.

If your claim is repudiated by your insurer, you have the right to file a dispute with an ombudsman or through a court of law.

It’s important to be cognisant of the time-bar clause of your policy, which requires the insured to instate legal action against an insurer within a specific period.

Invest In Physical Security For Property Reinforcement

Employing a security service to look after your property could be a deterrent. However there are ways to reinforce your property against a physical onslaught. Roll-down shutters can serve as a defence against an attack if there is enough time to activate the barriers. Another option is to install riot glass or glazing shields that are virtually unbreakable.

What these recent events have taught business owners and SMEs is that being in tune with fellow business owners and your community is as important as investing in protective measures. Major events like civil unrest or natural disasters are a possibility, so it’s important to have reliable information sources and a plan of action.

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites.


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