Police disperse looters in the Durban CBD. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Police disperse looters in the Durban CBD. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

KZN looting damage over R1bn, says Premier Sihle Zikalala

By Vernon Mchunu Time of article published Jul 14, 2021

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DURBAN - AS KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala estimated that this week’s looting and sabotage will cost more than R1 billion in repairs, the state-owned insurer for private and public entities said it was all geared up to assist with claims.

While the eThekwini municipal bus and refuse collection services remained suspended for safety reasons, Zikalala said most municipalities in the province were affected by the looting, with the destruction of infrastructure and service delivery disruptions.

“We estimate that the destruction to both private and public infrastructure will amount to not less than R1bn, and that is a very conservative estimate,” said Zikalala, who delivered a State of the Province update yesterday morning following a night of continued looting of supermarkets and small businesses.

The SA Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) said it was too early to quantify the extent of the damage in terms of monetary value, as the affected were still working with their agents to assess the losses.

Not all the claims would have been furnished to the association, as riots were still continuing, said Fareedah Benjamin, Sasria’s executive manager for insurance operations.

The biggest claim paid by the association in the recent past was about R1.7bn, which was paid from the 2018/19 financial year budget, in relation to the then countrywide service delivery protests, she said.

“From the time when the (current) protests broke out on Friday, we immediately galvanised our well-trained claims handlers. Our agents have been on the ground, working with public and private entities, and individuals, to assess damages,” said Benjamin, who added the current destruction was within the ambit of the association.

“In terms of the magnitude, the destruction of material infrastructure and looting of contents, is huge. But we are more than capacitated to deal with it in terms of our mandate. Our brokers and loss adjusters have already started to work with those who have filed claims. They are also assisting all our clients to ensure that their policies are in order. We want to assure our clients that we are more than ready to assist in ensuring that claims are processed successfully,” she said.

During the service-delivery protests of 2018/19, Sasria, which falls under the National Treasury, had paid about R200 million for damages in Pretoria alone.

The 2015 #FeesMustFall campaign had led to the insurer parting with about R450m for repairs at various higher education institutions, whose property was destroyed.

Zikalala said due to the continuing unrest, maintenance and infrastructure repair teams were unable to get to areas that required such services.

“The sporadic outbreaks of violence have also hindered the delivery of basic services, such as waste removal and provision of water – via water tankers – in water-scarce communities,” he said.

“The torching of municipal assets, such as the Disaster Management offices in Mtubatuba, and water tankers in the Ugu District, which has long been battling with the provision of water, is set to have a devastating impact. EThekwini metro had to cease rendering certain services, such as buses, in the interest of protecting workers, commuters and assets during this volatile situation. Other municipalities had to halt the collection of waste in their areas, while most call centres cannot operate as workers cannot get to work for fear of their lives,” said Zikalala, who welcomed the deployment of the SA National Defence Force in support of police.

The city said in a statement that customer service centres were closed “until further notice”.

At least 26 people were reported by the provincial Cabinet’s security cluster to have died in the carnage, according to Zikalala.

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