SAB, Heineken facilities looted and torched, and more may be targeted, says Beer Association

A large number of liquor stores have been looted, the Beer Association said on Tuesday night, and so have important facilities of both SAB and Heinken – with more in the line of fire. A Heineken warehouse in KwaZulu-Natal was looted on Sunday, then “cleaned out” on Tuesday, said the group in a statement, down to crates and empty bottles.

Two KwaZulu-Natal depots of SAB were looted and set on fire, also on Tuesday, said the association, which speaks for both Heineken and SAB, as well as craft brewers. “There is a fear that the other three remaining SAB facilities in the province will also be targeted. Courier companies carrying alcohol and raw material such as malt for export have also been attacked.”

The association said security at the sites had been “overwhelmed by the number of looters and have received very little support” from police and soldiers, “due to their own lack of capacity on the ground.” It called for the urgent declaration of a State of Emergency, with a “drastic” increase in the number of soldiers deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. 

As of Tuesday morning, defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula argued that a State of Emergency is not required to quell looting, but others, including Former National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli and  former Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza, have argued it is necessary to restore the rule of law. The Beer Association said the disruption of both retail and supply-side infrastructure – such as specialised manufacturing facilities it believes are being targeted – “is threatening the total collapse of the alcohol industry that is already on its knees due to the four alcohol bans that have been enforced over the past 16 months.”

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