South Africa is currently on edge of a “civil war” like unrest, amid warnings that the country could be facing rolling blackouts and the possibility of a total power grid failure. As the fears of mass rioting grow, Western embassies including the US and Australia have urged their citizens to stock up on “several days worth” of food and water, advising them to be on high alert during the extended blackouts that are sweeping the country during its energy crisis. The country has been grappling with frequent six-hour-long power cuts, creating a major energy crisis that has sparked mass protests and civil unrest.
Earlier this month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster with immediate effect, as the country faced an acute electricity shortage.
As a result, state-owned power company Eskom has had to issue rolling blackout events known as “load shedding”, which have lasted up to 12 hours in some instances, news.com.au reports.
Earlier this month, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “Rolling blackouts (load shedding) are occurring throughout South Africa which are affecting private residences, businesses, municipal lighting, traffic lights and hotels.
“Blackouts can also affect water availability, internet connectivity, mobile phone network coverage, fuel availability, residential security features, and food supply.”
They also warned that these power outages could increase crime, saying “For example, traffic jams due to power outages provide opportunities for smash-and-grab crime.
“Residences can be targeted when lights are out and security systems are not functioning. Ongoing conditions have led to increased protests and demonstrations, and in some cases, civil unrest, throughout the country.”
Meanwhile, the US Embassy advised its citizens to “maintain 72-hours’ worth of supplies at home by stockpiling non-perishable food and 3 litres of drinking water per person per day, and medicines and first aid supplies.”
They said: “Be aware of your surroundings, review your personal security plans, and inquire about a back-up power supply for your place of lodging (i.e. generators or solar-power).
They also warned US citizens against demonstrations, urging them to “exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.”
Last month, the US government warned representatives of large US-based companies operating in South Africa to prepare for a total collapse of the power grid, tech publication MyBroadband reported.
During a meeting, US government officials noted that while a total power grid failure was unlikely, it was “something we need to start thinking about”.
They warned that in case of a total collapse, it could take up to “six to 14 days to restart the power grid,” adding that “there are a few feeder lines from other countries, but not enough to help with a black start situation.”
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The official warned that if the grid collapsed, mass looting and civil unrest could follow, quoting an unnamed individual who said, “What’s left after a blackout would be what was left after a civil war.”
In a viral Twitter thread this week, user @k9_reaper said that South Africa, a country with a population of nearly 60 million, “has collapsed”.
The user wrote: “We’re seeing an increase in coordinated attacks on water, power and comms infrastructure. Looting is no longer just a daily thing, but is also now becoming more structured with guerilla planning involved.
“The cost of living is insane. Fuel is expensive. Medical aid is a luxury that most cannot afford. Food costs are going through the roof. I myself can literally barely pay for new pants.”
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