One South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has discouraged South Africans from panic buying and hoarding in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Writing on Twitter on Monday, Maimane said panic buying could lead to price increases, which could in turn affect the most vulnerable in society.
He wrote, “The most important thing right now is not to give into panic. Hoarding and panic buying will lead to price increases and make it difficult for the vulnerable to access commodities they need. We are in this together. We need to think about each other and practice Ubuntu.”
‘Think of the whole system’
Maimane added, “I understand the fear. I understand the desire to protect ones family. I have a family myself. If we panic though we hurt everyone including ourselves.
“If one of us can not find hand sanitiser, that allows the continuation of the spread. We have to think of the whole system.”
In response to government calls for greater hygiene to limit the spread of coronavirus, most shoppers appear to be stocking up on hand sanitisers, cleaning supplies, tissues and hand towels.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa also announced a raft of extraordinary measures, including closure of 37 land and sea ports of entry. This appears to have led some to believe that food and other supplies may run out in retail outlets.
Long queues and empty shelves
Social media users have shared pictures and videos showing long queues and empty shelves in a number of retail outlets such as Makro and Woolworths.
Some concerned Twitter users called on retail outlets to limit the number of units per item a shopper can buy.
Entrepreneur Vusi Tembekwayo tweeted, “Dear Makro, the responsible thing to do is to limit the quantity a single consumer or single household can buy so that there is enough for everybody.
“Somebody tag new @MassmartSA CEO Mitchell Slape and Doug Jones CE of Wholesale Business. We must think for our fellow citizens.”
Makro, Checkers respond
Checkers responded to some of the calls on Twitter, saying it was “monitoring demand and applying limits where necessary.”
It added, “We understand customers’ concerns but appeal to all to support each other so that everyone can get what they need. Customers can be assured that we are working with suppliers to meet the increased demand.”
In an update on its website, Makro also said, “We are dedicated to keeping our stores stocked and prices fair.
“We are working especially hard to replenish hand sanitisers, cleaning supplies, paper products, and other in-demand items as quickly as possible and at our everyday low prices.”