The Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga has urged municipalities in the Umgungundlovu District to move with speed in putting together recovery plans for interventions that will ensure that the district returns to normality, after the recent violent unrests in parts of the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces.

“As government, we are more concerned about food security, particularly in areas that have experienced more damage to businesses that sell basic supplies. The most urgent right now is to restore food supply at retail stores and push return to normality in these communities,” said Deputy Minister Chikunga.

The Deputy Minister was addressing the uMgungundlivu district leadership comprising of local councils from the four local municipalities that were adversely affected by the looting and destruction of infrastructure, namely: uMngeni, Mpofana, Msunduzi and Ipendle. She said government was working on a relief package that includes Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) for workers whose jobs were affected by the unrests, as well as providing food relief to households in areas affected by the looting.

“Provincial Departments of Social Development are speeding up their social relief of distress programmes to provide support in the form of food parcels, cash and food vouchers for the distressed families. It is important that as a municipality when we distribute these social relief packages, we first identify families that are in need in order for it to reach those that are most deserving,” said Deputy Minister Chikunga.

As the National Champion of the uMgungundlovu’s District Development Model (DDM), Deputy Minister Chikunga, spent three days in the district assessing the damages caused by the unrests and engaged with various stakeholders, and role-players in the area calling for partnership to rebuild what had been lost.

The four municipalities were among those hardest hit by a series of looting, vandalism and arson in the district. There were devastating damages for big and small businesses, trucks on the N3 belt, warehouses, government offices and schools looted and set alight in and around the local business districts (CBDs) of Pietermaritzburg, Howick, Mooiriver and Ipendle.

Deputy Minister Chikunga also met with some of the local farmers who also suffered loss of crops and livestock after their farms and warehouses were invaded, looted and set on fire during the weeklong riots. “As government we are more than willing to work with all sectors to rebuild what has been destroyed, and we are encouraged by the local agriculture sector’s commitment to work with us in rebuilding and growing the economy of this district,’ she said.

The Deputy Minister said the law enforcement agencies were working tirelessly to apprehend those responsible and urged communities to assist in exposing culprits who were involved in the riots.