After the unrest in South Africa, ash and slush envelope industrial Durban.
Small fires smouldered beneath the fallen roof of a label-printing facility in Durban, filling the air with an unpleasant odor of chemical combustion days after terrible riots shook the country.
Two young, very depressed workers, dressed in T-shirts, gazed at the smoldering ash mounds that had previously been adhesive paper wheels fed into now-obliterated printers.
One of them, a plant supervisor, said, gingerly wading among smoldering machinery remains, “I don’t think anything can be saved.”
His coworker, a forklift driver, shrugged and lingered unhappily near the entrance, trying to make sense of the devastation.
He said, “Let’s go.” “I don’t want to stare at this area any longer.”
They requested anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on behalf of their company.
One of the building’s constructors, who was just five years old at the time, pulled over and used her smartphone to photograph the damage.
She groaned and said, “This whole thing will have to be torn down.”
“Why would someone invest if this is the level of havoc we can wreak on the country in a week? ”
The Ushukela Industrial Park in the southern port city – whose name means “sweet” in Zulu – was one of several that were targeted in a nationwide arson and looting rampage last week.
Hundreds of shattered television screens were scattered across the entrance of a darkened LG Electronics factory across the road, which had relocated from South Africa’s financial center Johannesburg less than a year ago.
Dismantled washing machines and air conditioners lie in the sun, along with the occasional shoe, probably left behind by fleeing looters.
A security guard maintained an eye on the trash, which was still being scavenged for scrap metal and spare parts.
Durban’s economy is based on manufacturing, which is aided by its proximity to one of the largest and busiest shipping terminals in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The fringes of the verdant ocean-facing city, which is also a famous tourist attraction, are lined by large factories and warehouses.
Mobs raided the buildings, plundering supplies and setting fires in a riot provoked by the imprisonment of South Africa’s graft-accused ex-president Jacob Zuma.
The turmoil quickly expanded to Johannesburg, where 215 people died in stampedes, falling objects, and fires.
The looting has abated, but property and equipment damage in KwaZulu-Natal province alone is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion (1.19 billion euros).
Companies are scrambling to put the parts back together.
On a hilltop with a view of an industrial suburb. Brief News from Washington Newsday.