WATCH: Long queues for food and fuel as eMpangeni mops up following looting and vandalism
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By Sihle Mavuso
EMPANGENI - As KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng mops up after looting and vandalism that started on Sunday, the town of eMpangeni and Nseleni township is feeling the pinch.
In eMpangeni alone, although some malls and businesses were saved when community policing forums stood up and shielded them, there were hardships.
Among the shortages experienced by the two areas were basic foodstuff and fuel. Motorists have to queue for hours to get fuel and food. Here, motorists can be seen queueing for fuel and basic foodstuffs at Engen ultra city along the N2 near Empangeni-Richards Bay.
Around 12 noon, one female motorist from Mtunzini said she had been waiting since 9am on Saturday and they were told that the garage itself was still waiting for a tanker to deliver fuel before they could start serving anxious motorists.
“I have been here since 9am waiting for fuel. We were told that the garage is without fuel and it is still waiting for a tanker to fill up and we don’t know when that tanker will come. Sadly, we have to wait because we have nowhere to go,” the motorist said.
In the long queue, some of the cars had registrations showing that they came Mtubatuba, Mandeni and Gingindlovu.
Motorists are seen queueing for fuel and basic foodstuff at Engen ultra city along the N2 near Mpangeni-Richards Bay. Video: Sihle Mavuso/ IOL Political Bureau
The pinch of the unrest was also felt in the nearby township of Nseleni, where its only mall was looted and torched. About 14 major retailers within the township mall were burnt down.
On the scene, mopping up was being carried out by about 330 workers from Boxer supermarket, who were cleaning with the hope of getting the business running again. However, the retailer assistant manager, Mbali Mkhize, said they were not sure when they would start operating again, saying the go-ahead would have to come from their head office in Durban.
“We are mopping up as much as we can, but we have been told by the insurance company not to tamper with the interior part of the shop. As you can see, the kids are helping by bringing back the trolleys,” Mkhize said.
The retailer had a total staff of 107 - both permanent and casual staff. Some of the staff members found mopping up were also moving around the township collecting trolleys which were allegedly taken by looters when the mall was torched on Monday morning.
Minutes after our arrival, an army truck came to the mall to patrol and they said they had been tipped off that there was fresh looting. It later turned out that they were misled as the “looters” were actually Boxer workers who were helping to clean up.
The effect of the looting did not only leave an economic trauma, but also a mental one on security guards. Afrika Mhlongo, a guard in the mall, said they were living in fear after some looters threatened them when they tried to stop the looting.
“We are appealing to the police to be visible as we rely on them for backup when there is looting. If they can regularly patrol the area, looters could be scared off,” said Mhlongo.
On the other hand, the police have started staging roadblocks, stopping cars to prevent looted goods from being moved out of Durban. On Saturday morning a joint roadblock of SAPS, RTI and Durban metro police was staged at the uThongathi toll gate, and several people were detained. A police officer on the scene said this was part of their effort to get back looted goods.
“Now it’s our turn to recover the goods. As we speak, our van is full suspects,” said the officer who is not authorised to speak to the media.