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By Victor Angula |

The Ohlthaver & List Group of companies (O&L) is regretting the tragic events of the past week where 215 people were reported to have died during the rioting and looting of shops in South Africa.

Apart from scores of people who died during the week’s chaos, more than N$10 billion worth of the South African economy was said to have been destroyed in a span of days.

While the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma was the trigger to the rioting and looting, all analysts have agreed that the underlying widespread poverty and structural inequalities of the South African society provided the fuel to the tragedy.

Thus when asked about how the situation in South Africa has affected the O&L Group, the Group’s manager for corporate relations Ms Roux-Che Locke said that:

“We are regrettably cognizant of the very sad and tragic time in the history of South-Africa’s democracy which is sure to have a ripple effect on Namibia as well. As we know, South Africa is a major supplier of goods and services to Namibia and from a retail perspective, we had initially anticipated a shortage of certain commodities had the situation persisted and/or exacerbated.

“Equally, the tourism sector, which is already on its knees, is expected to be impacted as South Africa is one of our major tourist source markets. The biggest risk for NBL’s Namibian operation was in terms of packaging materials coming in from South Africa though the supply is still stable.

“In terms of NBL’s interest in Heineken South Africa, the extent of the riots as well as the impact of the alcohol ban are yet to be understood. Neither is it over, although it is clear that it will have an impact, the full extent is yet to be determined.”

As news of the rioting in South Africa a week ago spread to Namibia, so did the threats and fears of a similar situation happening in Namibia.

Reports indicate that the Pick n Pay Group of supermarkets in South Africa suffered some of the major losses as a result of the rioting and looting, with 136 of their shops looted or burned.

O&L owns the Pick n Pay brand in Namibia, and they have supermarkets in most of Namibia’s major towns. O&L through Heineken South Africa also distributes its NBL beer brands to the South African market.

So that of all, the O&L Group has more at stake if the situation in South Africa persist or if the situation spilled over to Namibia.

Instead Locke said: “While we have little control over people’s actions and behavior, we are working closely with our stakeholders and authorities and have a concise action plan in place to mitigate any risk while having ensured strengthened security presence at our properties like Wernhil.”

In the photo: South African police trying to maintain law and order at a Shoprite store which had survived the looting. (Image by The Sun)