Counting the costs: South Africa businesses wrecked by unrest

People loot an area near a burning warehouse after violence erupted following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma, in Durban, South Africa, July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

JOHANNESBURG, July 14 (Reuters) – After loosing 53 cars during xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2019, Johannesburg car dealership owner Okey Uchendu never thought he would see his business destroyed again by civil unrest in less than two years.

Already dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, Uchendu received a call at midnight on Sunday that his dealership was engulfed in flames as looting and violence, the worst in South Africa for years, escalated, wrecking hundreds of businesses.

“I’m speechless,” the 45-year old told Reuters on Wednesday standing next to 58 burnt cars. “I feel like committing suicide because my livelihood has been taken away from me. I was sitting crying, helpless because I can’t do anything.”

Among the severely burnt cars was…

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