South Africa: "Like a Zombie Movie" - Durban Recovers from a Week of Looting

South Africa: "Like a Zombie Movie" - Durban Recovers from a Week of Looting
South Africa: "Like a Zombie Movie" - Durban Recovers from a Week of Looting

"Like a Zombie Movie" - Durban wakes up after a week of looting with giant queues for food and medicine

It took hours to clear the trash and clear the road leading to the Riverhorse industrial complex in Durban, but about 200 community members showed up in the morning to begin cleaning up the littered streets.

They represented a true slice of South African society, working quickly and smoothly after a week of violence and unrest.

"What did you think when you first saw this place this morning?" I asked a community activist named Rodney Bengu.

"It was like a scene from a zombie movie, it was like a scene from one of those epic doomsday movies," he exclaimed.

Warehouses and distribution centers in the area have been looted and burned in an outbreak of violence that has stunned the nation - and the people who run it - although the government says the situation in Durban is now "moving towards stability."

Nevertheless, looting continues, but in a somewhat less violent form.

Among the volunteer cleaners were members of poor communities who tried to take away whatever they could find of value.

For Sudesh Rajkumar, who runs a local business at the scene, their presence was very annoying.

"We've been here since eight, trying to get everything ready for next Monday, but the guys are looting again, trying to take away food, butter and whatever bits are left."


“It's very disappointing,” he said.

For Rodney Bengu, this experience became a kind of warning in a country where half of the population lives below the poverty line.

"As you can see, there are a lot of poor people in our country, especially in (KwaZulu-Natal province), they are poor, there are a lot of them, they say they are hungry, and that showed us how hungry and desperate they are."

However, this despair is now spreading to the entire city, which has become a community of giant queues.

Food, medicine and fuel have become extremely difficult to come by as supply chains have been disrupted and in some cases destroyed.

Outside the Pick 'n Pay supermarket in the upmarket suburb of Umhlanga, more than 1,000 people queued around the block - although the store managers were willing to let only 300 people inside.

Durban resident Kwenele Mawumengwana said he had been queuing for over three hours when he was told he would not be allowed in.

"This is a difficult situation," he said. "We did the same thing yesterday at another center and got the same result. The only thing we found for the kids was a bag of chips."

"What would you say to the marauders if you could?" I asked.

"Oh, you know, all these people are standing here and want food, that's all we want. We just want to buy some food, a little stability for our homes - so I have no words for marauders, I have no words for marauders. ".

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