South Africa’s biggest food manufacturer – which produces household brands like Jungle Oats cereals and snacks and Albany Bread – said several of its sites in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and Gauteng had ‘come under fire’ from citizens rebelling against the decision to jail former South African president Jacob Zuma.
In a statement, Tiger Brands said millions of Rands worth of stock had been lost during the widespread looting spree, along with excessive damage to its Rice and Snacks & Treats divisions.
“It is currently estimated that the loss of stock is in excess of R150 million,” said the company.
“The loss of profit due to business interruption is still being quantified. In relation to the affected sites, the extent of damage to property and infrastructure is subject to our ability to safely access the affected properties and is still to be determined.”
The company said the state of affairs – primarily in KZN – remains volatile, presenting a further risk to other Tiger Brands facilities in the area.
As such, it has suspended bakery operations, including the distribution of bread in the region. Deliveries of bread in certain areas of Gauteng have also been affected.
“Tiger Brands’ immediate priority is the well-being and safety of its employees. Consequently, we have suspended operations at affected locations where our risk assessments concluded that it was prudent to do so and temporarily closed all our operations in KZN.
“As the largest food manufacturer in the country, we are working closely with our supply partners to ensure ongoing production at our operations. However, security of supply to consumers is subject to the re-opening of key transport routes and access to the operations of our retail and wholesale partners,” it said.
Counting the costs to SA’s economy
The violence broke out in response to the jailing of Zuma over his failure to appear at a corruption inquiry, however, at the heart of it was a deep rooted anger over the hardship and inequality that nearly three decades of democracy since the end of apartheid has failed to address.
According to reports, the tidal wave of vandalism and looting is finally beginning to ebb.
But the costs remain high, with millions of Rands worth of businesses destroyed, more than 2,000 citizens arrested and at least 117 people killed.