A total of R1.5 billion has been approved to support businesses affected by the looting and unrest in July, says Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel.

Patel was updating the media on the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s (dtic) interventions aimed at assisting businesses that had their property destroyed and operations disrupted due to the riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The Minister said the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Solidarity Fund and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) provided the R1.5 billion to businesses affected by July’s looting.

According to Patel, the R1.5 billion in direct support would be broken down to 123 separate transactions representing 320 business sites.

“We have also worked with associations and groups. In the sugar industry, we got an application from sugar farmers whose cane was burnt and R85 million was made available to cover 192 sugar farmers. This has been approved and will get to the final beneficiary,” Patel said on Tuesday.

Measures to avoid double dipping and corruption have been put in place.

IDC Chief Executive Officer Tshokolo Nchocho said R700 million of the R1.5 billion was in grant form.

“Of the R1.5 billion, part of it was in debt form at a 5% rate and some of it was in grant form. We have set aside a dedicated team that goes in and assists with reconstruction of the processes,” Nchocho said.

Patel said most businesses had already received assistance or support. The unrest resulted in damages to hundreds of businesses in the two provinces.

Businesses that were ravaged during the violence and looting were encouraged to lodge claims to access packages after the department opened the application process.

A total of 320 business sites were affected by the riots. Earlier this month, the NEF and the Solidarity Fund established a R450 million SMME Support Programme for affected businesses.

NEF Chief Executive Officer Philisiwe Buthelezi-Mthethwa said they have worked with the dtic and the Solidarity Fund to build capacity needed to respond to businesses in need.

She said companies that are not in good standing with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) will still be assisted, taking into account that critical tax information may have been destroyed during looting .

Source: South African Government News Agency