Tech firms not spared in SA anarchy

Tech firms not spared in SA anarchy

As unrest continues to grip South Africa mainly in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces, major technology firms have taken precautionary measures and shut their businesses as the violence and looting persists.

Among mobile operators, Telkom is the latest to follow MTN and Vodacom in shutting stores and has gone a step further with countrywide store closures until further notice to prevent or limit losses due to the anarchy that has engulfed the country.

In a statement, the company said, “Please note that from 13 July, all Telkom stores across the country will be closed until the situation can be assessed fully and it can be established that it is completely safe to resume business activities.”

During the store closures, Telkom has encouraged its customers to use digital self-service channels, including its smartphone app.

To date, the violence and looting in South Africa has seen over 200 malls looted countrywide, 600 stores destroyed and 72 people dead.

The anarchy has also seen Samsung Electronics, LG South Africa and JSE-listed IT distribution group Mustek bearing the brunt.

Samsung’s KwaZulu-Natal distribution centre in Cato Ridge was attacked by looters. The company’s Director Justin Hume said, “Unfortunately, our distribution centre in Cato Ridge was attacked as well as a number of our service centres.” These relate to our consumer electronics ranges such as TVs and refrigerators.”

LG South Africa also confirmed that its factory located at Cornubia Industrial Park, in Durban was attacked, looted and set on fire.

However, the company said none of its employees were injured. Deuk Soo Ahn, president of LG South Africa, said: “We take the safety of our workers very seriously and would like to reassure South Africans that we are working as swiftly and with great caution as we investigate the impact of what occurred at our factory in Durban.”

Mustek had its Durban offices and warehouse attached, looted and also torched. The company’s Managing Director Hein Engelbrecht said no employees were present at the time when criminals breached the security and gained entry.

“They attacked the office complex at around midday and hurt the security guards badly and broke down the gate,” said Engelbrecht.

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