Distell building ransacked amid widespread rioting in South Africa

Distell halted all operations in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal after looters attacked its distribution centre in New Germany this week.

South Africa has been plagued by days of widespread rioting, looting and violence after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed on charges of corruption.

Video footage uploaded on YouTube shows the Distell building on fire amid widespread riots across the country.

A separate report revealed that the distribution centre has been ransacked twice this week, and that the police managed to prevent further damage on the second occasion.

More than 200 liquor stores have been targeted and looted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng since the unrest erupted over the weekend, according to the SA Liquor Brand Owners Association.

National Liquor Traders’ Council convener Lucky Ntimane told Fin24: “This has a dire impact for our continued survival as taverns as we have become soft targets for these criminals who seem to have prioritised alcohol as a product of choice for looting.

“The burning and looting of liquor manufacturing plants paints a bleak picture for the future growth prospects of our industry and the livelihoods that are dependent on it.

“This criminality also poses great danger to our lives as out taverns share the same structure as our houses. The burning of a taverns is in effect burning a house.”

The South African government plans to deploy 25,000 troops in a bid to counter the riots. At least 70 people have died and there have been almost 2,000 arrests.

Hundreds of shops and businesses have been looted, while citizens are reportedly arming themselves and forming vigilante groups to protect their property from the rampage.

BBC correspondent Nomsa Maseko said: “Private residents armed with shotguns, pistols, garden spades and machetes have become the only defence against mobs who continue to raid areas that still have supermarkets, factories and warehouses left untouched following six days of riots in Durban.

“In some areas, supermarkets that haven't been raided are fast running out of basic supplies. Snaking queues are forming as people buy anything they can get their hands on.”