Liquor industry urges government to declare a State of Emergency as more than 200 liquor shops looted in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng

Media statement

The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) and National Liquor Traders (NLT) has written to President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa urgently calling on government to declare a State of Emergency under Section 37 of the Constitution and State of Emergency Act to protect  people, communities and businesses in areas affected by the continuing unrest.

“The mass looting, threat to lives and livelihoods and destruction of property has reached proportions that require the rapid and effective deployment of SANDF troops to assist business owners, says SALBA CEO, Kurt Moore. “Many of these are small and medium enterprises and are unable to protect their employees, businesses and livelihoods alone.”

He added that the lack of police presence and SANDF support and visibility has resulted in more than 200 of our members’ stores being deliberately targeted and looted. Millions of rands worth of stock at warehouses and retail premises across Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng has been stolen and stores damaged.

After the ransacking of retail stores, the warehouses of liquor companies and distributors had become a primary target of looting and vandalism.

“Our big concern is that the focus is now shifting to our primary production sites (breweries and distilleries) where high volume pre-production alcohol is stored,” added Moore. “Any attack on these sites poses a serious safety risk for our security personnel on site, as well as looters and surrounding communities.”

Convenor of the National Liquor Traders, Lucky Ntimane said the industry believed that many of these attacks were politically orchestrated as well as co-ordinated by organised crime which served to grow the illicit alcohol sector.  “If the destruction continues unabated, the liquor industry will reach a point of no return and more than 200 000 people will be out of work.”

The latest losses exacerbate the dire economic situation that the industry finds itself in after the four successive alcohol bans over the past 16 months related to Covid-19.  These have decimated the liquor industry, already putting 233,547 jobs at risk and causing tax revenue losses of R34.2 billion as well as R10.2 billion in lost excise revenue.

The industry urged the President to take the necessary steps to stabilise the country, mobilise the necessary resources to restore law and order in the affected areas and prevent further violence, loss of life and economic destruction.

Issued by FTI Consulting on behalf of South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) and  National Liquor Traders (NLT). For interviews, or further information, please contact: