Communities formed snaking, often silent queues, at shops that had not bore the brunt of looters in Durban in an effort to buy what ever essentials they could get their hands on.

What was, however, clear was that bread and milk supplies had run out.

With shopping malls across the city looted bare, food security was fast becoming a concern.

In addition to basic food supplies, mothers were desperately queuing for baby formula and nappies, with supplies fast running out.

Speaking in her personal capacity, Mbali Ntuli, a senior DA member in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, who was one of the many people who lined up to buy essentials, described the situation as “madness”.

“Law abiding citizens were very frustrated that after waiting hours to pay for groceries, they were stopped from doing so by the police. Initially there was no reason given, but later the police said they did it for Covid protocols, and because intelligence said looters had infiltrated the lines,” Mbali said.

She said the solution may rather be to check everybody going into the store for weapons instead of just shutting it down.

“People were scared and worried about essentials. My mother, who was in the queue with me, also had to go queue for her medication. She got it after four hours in the queue. There is no way she can queue for longer hours for food. I am incredibly worried about her, and her well-being during this time. I ended up not getting anything, despite being near the front of the queue when it shut down. I desperately needed nappies and some other goods for my toddler daughter. I think what everybody is worried about, is the supply chains seem to be broken, so if they don’t stock up on food now, they will find themselves in a food crisis,” she said.

Carvin Goldstone a Durban comedian and former journalist agreed.

“I’ve spoken to friends of mine, all over the city, all over the province and people are driving around trying to find bread, which is like the most basic thing. We can’t find bread, because all the shops that aren’t looted are closed, the ones that are looted, have nothing inside,” Goldstone said.

“Some of my friends have babies, they can’t find stuff for their babies. I don’t know how we navigate the situation, like looting is one thing, and then it’s over. And then we get back to normal. But the amount of damage that’s taking place to shops, malls that were actually burnt, food supplies in warehouses that were looted and set alight. Replacing the infrastructure, just to store the food is a journey. So, we are about to face a serious food insecurity crisis,” he said.

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