A number of food and liquor stores have been looted in South Africa amid a strict national lockdown that was put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Incidents were reported in several locations on the outskirts of Cape Town near the Gugulethu township, where many people lived in poverty even before the lockdown restricted people’s movements and affected their livelihoods.
“It is a struggle for many to put food on the table,” Albert Fritz, minister of community safety for the Western Cape province, said in a statement issued late on Tuesday.
“At present, we find ourselves facing a humanitarian crisis because of the lockdown.
“Our government has taken a number of steps to assist as much as we can.
“However, I must be clear, looting will not be tolerated.
“We urge all our residents to abide by the law at all times,” he added.
South Africa introduced the lockdown on March 26 and plans to keep it in place at least until the end of April.
People have been instructed to stay home unless they need to access essential services such as supermarkets and medical services.
The sale of alcohol and cigarettes has also been prohibited during the lockdown to help improve physical distancing.
Alcohol is now being moved out of at-risk liquor stores to prevent raiding and looting, Fritz said.
The coronavirus can lead to the potentially fatal COVID-19 respiratory disease.
South Africa has the highest number of infections in Africa, with 2,415 confirmed cases recorded as of Tuesday.
There have also been 27 deaths.