Two of South Africa’s top pharmaceutical chains, Dis-Chem and Clicks, have closed their stores, as well as COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) today following bouts of civil unrest in the province.
Due to the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, Dis-Chem Pharmacies, Dis-Chem Vaccination Sites and Dis-Chem Drive Through Testing Stations in the area will be closed today. We appreciate your patience and apologise for any inconvenience. 💚 KZN family, please stay safe. pic.twitter.com/EXSvvjXa2v
— Dis-Chem (@Dischem) July 12, 2021
These closures come after a weekend of looting and violent clashes with police around Pietermaritzburg and eThekwini. Rioting and looting have since spread from KZN to Gauteng, with shopping centres being looted and destroyed.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) has confirmed that nearly 100 people have been arrested in Gauteng alone, following incidents of looting in downtown Johannesburg. Some vaccination sites in Johannesburg have been closed as well.
In KZN, several people have been killed in the unrest, with a major shopping centre in Pietermaritzburg looted and set to the torch.
— Sithembiso buthelezi (@goodnewsbuthel) July 12, 2021
According to Business Insider, Disc-Chem has vaccinated more than 100,000 individuals since the rollout began in February. The pharmaceutics retailer announced the closure of its stores via Twitter, including the testing site at Atrium Centre in downtown Durban, and vaccination services at the Galleria shopping centre and La Lucia Mall.
These closures come a week after the company announced plans to deploy more vaccination sites to process people aged 50 and above as walk-ins whether they have health insurance or not.
“Clicks is currently not trading in KwaZulu-Natal,” Sedick Arendse, Clicks Chief Store Operations Manager, said, quoted by Business Insider.
“Multiple Clicks stores have been looted in KZN with protests spreading to other provinces. We are monitoring the situation.”
Due to the ongoing violence, the local eThekwini municipality had also decided to close clinics and vaccination sites.
“The Municipality has closed its clinics due to threats that have been directed at health facilities in the City,” the municipality said in a statement.
“The ongoing civil unrest has also affected community vaccination sites which have been unable to operate today. The Municipality will reassess the situation during the day and advise the public accordingly.”
SANDF Deployed to Quell #ShutdownSA Riots
The South African government will deploy the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) to both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in order to help law enforcement quell the violent looting occurring in the provinces.
Unrest began in earnest in KZN after news broke that former President Jacob Zuma had been sent to prison for being found in contempt of court. Reuters reports that the decision to jail Zuma is believed to be a test of South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law, especially when it comes to powerful, popular politicians.
SA National Defence Force Media Statement | Monday, 12 July 2021 | The SA National Defence Force to deploy soldiers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces to assist Law Enforcement Agencies.#SANDF pic.twitter.com/ExlsUC4Lxk
— SA National Defence Force (@SANDF_ZA) July 12, 2021
“The South African National Defence Force has commenced with pre-deployment processes…to assist law enforcement agencies deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces…to quell the unrest that has gripped both in the last few days,” the military said in a statement.
“The duration [of the deployment] and number of deploying soldiers will be determined based on the assessment of the situation on the ground,” it added.