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Didiza warns panic buying will hinder entire supply chain

From Friday morning, the country will go into a 21-day lockdown as government tries to curb the spread of COVD-19, which has killed almost 20,000 people around the world.

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - With millions of South Africans anxious and uncertain about life under a lockdown, government is once again pleading with citizens not to disrupt the food supply chain and to only buy what they need.

From Friday morning, the country will go into a 21-day lockdown as government tries to curb the spread of COVD-19, which has killed almost 20,000 people around the world.

WATCH: Why you don't have to worry about food running out- agriculture's plan for SA lockdown

Just hours after the lockdown announcement, there were chaotic scenes at shopping centres across the country, with people piling trolleys high, clearing shelves of food and other items.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza said there was enough to go around but everyone needed to be responsible.

Didiza said panic buying would cause unnecessary inconvenience for people and would hinder the entire supply chain.

“As a nation, we boast on being food sufficient in production and a part of this year’s supply is yet to be harvested, particularly yellow and white maize, which promises to be a bumper field crop and citrus harvest also promises to be good.”

Didiza’s department has set aside R1.2 billion to address the effect of the coronavirus. It’s also made R100 million available to the Land Bank to assist farmers under distress.

‘THERE WILL BE ENOUGH FOOD’

Didiza again on Wednesday morning assured South Africans that there would be enough food in the country for a very long time.

Speaking on 702, she said: “There will be enough food and there will be food for a very long time because farmers are still continuing and in terms of the announcement of the president, the food chain from farms to processing will actually not be affected although we will apply stringent measures on how operations are undertaken… and that is why we are asking consumers not to panic.”

Didiza said the unnecessary panic buying that was happening was causing unwanted stress in the retail industry, because stock runs out quickly, therefore causing a disruption that was “unnecessary.”

She also reassured South Africans not to worry about goods that needed to be imported.

“As we said, businesses in terms of your import is still continuing and we are talking to our trading partners to see that we still do have available stock and I must say that, in respect of oil seeds, we have enough oil… even with wheat, which we import, we still got enough.”

Listen to the full audio below:

BUT MANY STILL CONTINUE TO STOCKPILE

While some South Africans are still waiting to get paid, others spent the last of their month-end money to stockpile.

Some people say they’d love to stockpile but have yet to get their salaries.

This despite President Cyril Ramaphosa assuring South Africans that there's no need to do so, as grocery stores will remain open with sufficient food supply.

One woman said she was not entirely convinced and has been panic buying to avoid heading out to shops during the lockdown period.

“You want to limit how much you go out. So, that’s key especially when you’ve got older parents or children. You know you don’t want to impact them.”

Candice Pinto said she was definitely not jumping on the bandwagon and was only buying a few necessities, at least for now.

“They said shops will be opening and people don’t need to panic. I thought of getting some of the essential things that I don’t have at home but not stockpiling.”

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.