South Africa’s Largest Oil Refinery Shutters Operations Amid Ongoing Violence 

Update (1548ET): As the worst violence in years plagues South Africa, the country’s largest oil refinery, Sapref, has shuttered operations “due to the civil unrest in the country and disruption of supply routes in and out of Kwazulu-Natal,” the company said. 

“Due to the civil unrest in the country and disruption of supply routes in and out of Kwazulu-Natal, suppliers of materials critical to SAPREF operations communicated the suspension of deliveries to the refinery due to safety concerns for their staff and damages to their vehicles on the roads,” the statement read. 

Here’s the complete statement: 

Here’s an image of the large refinery.

There’s also concern that fuel stations across some regions of South Africa could soon run dry. Sapref has declared “force majeure,” meaning it cannot honor supply contracts.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has already deployed the military to quell the unrest as shopping malls and warehouses are looted. 

Ramaphosa warned that shortages from food to medicines could be imminent.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed the military Monday to restore law and order after days of violent protests and mass looting following the imprisonment of former leader Jacob Zuma. The latest round of social unrest is some of the worst since the mid-1990s. 

The widespread looting and social unrest were triggered by last week’s incarceration of former President Zuma. Ramaphosa addressed the nation Monday evening, pleading for calm and for looters to consider the consequences of their actions.

“We are therefore mobilizing all available resources and capabilities to restore order,” Ramaphosa told the nation.

“Let me be clear: we will take action to protect every person in this country against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft, and looting.”

“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality,” the president said. He also warned that unrest could undermine efforts to quell the virus pandemic.

“Our vaccination program has been severely disrupted just as it is gaining momentum.” 

The president also warned that in a matter of weeks, “there’s a huge risk of food insecurity and medication insecurity.” 

His comments on national television come 24 hours after COVID lockdowns were extended for another two weeks. 

The deployment of the army and other forces have been sent to several townships in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the North West, as the local police have been overwhelmed by the violence. 

The unrest has already disrupted business activity in parts of the country and could undermine the economic recovery and confidence in the country by foreign investors. 

“The disquiet about Zuma’s arrest is being used as an excuse for sheer, opportunistic looting,” said Busisiwe Mavuso, the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, which represents some of the largest corporations in the country.

“The anarchy on the ground puts yet another nail in our ailing economy’s coffin.”

According to Bloomberg, More than 200 shopping malls were looted on Monday, and retailers had lost an estimated 2 billion rand ($137 million). There’s also been widespread looting of warehouses. 

Meanwhile, the reaction in markets was most pronounced in the Rand…

If the growing unrest is not contained, then expect the Rand to weaken against the dollar even more. 

Source

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