Violent #FreeZuma protests force Durban restaurants to close

While restaurants across the country were given the go-ahead to open under level-4 restrictions, restaurants in Durban have been forced to close their doors due to the #FreeZuma violent protests and looting.

The protest action follows the announcement of former President Zuma being sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Constitutional Court of South Africa and has sparked violence across the City of Ethekwini (Durban).

In an interview with Eat Out, Jamie Da Silva, Owner of Durban-based Skyline Coffee Roasters describes the situation as a “war-zone”.

“The protests have levelled up dramatically over the course of last night. Petrol bombs could be heard going off at all hours of the night. Shops and malls are being looted, cars are being burned. Motorists are being attacked. The CBD has a cloud of smoke hanging over it from all the destruction. It feels like a war zone! We have had to shut our doors as we cannot risk our staff and their safety by expecting them to come to work on public transport right now. We have asked them to stay home.”

Taken from Skyline Coffee Roasters Instagram story

The protesting has resulted in many restaurants facing closure to ensure the safety of their staff and their establishments. The closure is a severe blow to restaurants in Durban after facing the adjusted level-4 Lockdown regulations for the past two weeks and the announcement last night that sit-down dining would be allowed from 12 July.

“The protests have become increasingly violent over the weekend. It is just not worth the risk to open – especially as we cannot ensure the safety of our staff using public transport. Shops and malls are being looted or burnt to the ground. We are devastated. We have been looking forward to being allowed sit-downs and unfortunately, that will be delayed by another day or two. We are hoping to be able to open tomorrow but we will have to wait and see how today goes and if the violence comes to an end,” explains Da Silva.

The volatile situation in Durban has tied the hands of many restaurant owners.


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Kamini Pather, a Durban-based South African chef, TV and radio personality commented on the impact this will have on restaurants.

“With today’s political interference, restaurant staff cannot make it to work because there is no public transport and also it poses a risk for anyone that is going to work because you do not know if your store is going to be attacked or looted. The restaurant industry in Durban has had a second – more dire – hit this weekend and especially today because they are affected not only by Lockdown but by this completely shut down.”

Da Silva highlights that as an establishment they have ceased operations entirely for today.

“We will be open for takeaways and sit-downs as soon as the protests calm down.”

If you wish to support Skyline Coffee Roasters they are still offering to ship their roasted coffee nationwide which can be ordered online. Eat Out urges all locals in Durban to reach out to closed restaurants to find out how they can support them during this period.

“Just a note for other small businesses in our industry. Let’s keep our heads up as much as possible right now, we’ve pulled through a tough year with all the Covid regulations put in place and we will get through these protests as well,” concludes Da Silva.

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