The running total of the protest-related damage to SA cane growers stands at 353,000 tonnes of sugar cane lost to arson.
At R600 per tonne, this represents a revenue loss of more than R211m, says the SA Canegrowers' Association.
“Millers have been equally devastated, which has had a knock-on effect on the entire industry,” said chairperson Andrew Russell. “All sugar mills in KwaZulu-Natal have been forced to cease operations as they cannot receive cane or distribute sugar and molasses owing to disruptions to transport routes and blockades at these mills.
“Workers have also been threatened, further prompting mills to shut down to protect their staff.”
The damage already sustained will cripple the industry long after the unrest has been quelled, resulting in job losses in rural areas where unemployment is rife, he said.
“Without immediate and drastic measures to restore the rule of law, the ongoing damage to critical infrastructure may soon become irreparable.”