South Africa’s largest crude oil refinery, Sapref, said on Tuesday it was shutting down and declaring force majeure on contracts in the face of the ongoing social unrest partly triggered by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.
“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.”
Sapref is South Africa’s largest refinery and accounts for 35% of the country’s refining capacity, according to its website.
The Engen refinery in Durban and the Chevron refinery are currently out of commission, leaving Natref, a joint venture operated by Sasol and Total, the only major source of refined fuel in the country.
The consequences in the pipeline for the wider economy are truly massive, with shortages of other goods and services that rely on the transport sector to get to market threatened. The damage of looting to South Africa’s economy, from the top enablers of State Capture to those on the streets today, is mounting. We are all poorer as a result.
South Africa Zuma riots: Deadly unrest rages across country
The death toll in South Africa has risen to 72 as violence continues across the country following the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.
Crowds looting and setting alight shopping centres clashed with police in several cities on Tuesday.
The BBC filmed a baby being thrown from a building in Durban that was on fire after ground-floor shops were looted.
A day earlier, 10 people were killed in a stampede during looting at a shopping centre in Soweto.
The military have been deployed to help police overstretched since the unrest began last week.
South African police said in a statement they had identified 12 people suspected of provoking the riots, and that a total of 1,234 people had been arrested.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called it some of the worst violence witnessed in South Africa since the 1990s, before the end of apartheid, with fires started, highways blocked and businesses and warehouses looted in major cities and small towns in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.