The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the deployment of extra SANDF troops and the calling up of the Reserve Force to assist in restoring law and order in riot affected areas, but urges government to ensure that this deployment is optimally used.
The next big crisis will be the threat to food security in KZN - along with the supply of medication and fuel - and protecting these supply chains must be a priority of the SANDF deployment.
With warehouses, bakeries and distribution centres looted or destroyed throughout the province, it is impossible to re-supply supermarkets and shops locally. And with trucks still being looted and burnt on the major arterial roads in the province, these supplies cannot reach the shops from elsewhere.
It is critical that a large part of the military deployment is used to open up and guard the N2 and N3, along with other major routes and intersections, as well as to provide security for shops as they re-stock.
The SANDF has the vehicles, equipment and personnel for this crucial task. And while they must also assist SAPS with law enforcement duties, protecting the province's food security and supply chains must be a top priority.
Along with food supply chains, it is critical that the province's medical supply chains are restored and protected, as pharmacies, warehouses and medical practices throughout the province have also been ransacked. A shortage of chronic medication, medical consumables and oxygen supplies will have devastating effects.
This same military protection must be applied to the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccination sites so that the province's vaccination programme can be restarted as soon as possible.
And the third supply chain that needs to be urgently guarded is that of petrol and diesel both into the Ethekwini metro and into the rest of the province. Already we are seeing fuel stocks running dangerously low and it is crucial to keep the province's entire supply chain network fuelled up and operational.
Failure to restore and guard these three critical supply chains will see the looting that has mainly targeted retail stores, warehouses and factories until now move to residential areas, as hunger coupled with the suspension of SASSA grant payments inflames an already volatile situation.
The SANDF's armoured vehicles, helicopters and troops can and must be used in this important role.
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