140 000 looted tyres being sold online, says Dunlop maker

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Dunlop tyre brand manufacturer, Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), which lost about R90 million in stock and assets when its warehouse in Westville, Durban, was invaded and vandalised on July 11 said it was aware that much of the stolen tyre stock was now being sold online.

The tyre manufacturer said that in videos circulating on social media, groups of people were seen making off with tyres from the warehouse.

SRSA chief executive Lubin Ozoux said the loss in stock and assets was about R90m, with 70 000 tyres stolen from their warehouse, while about 140 000 tyres were known to have been looted from across the tyre manufacturing chain.

“However, there will be a substantial impact not only for the Dunlop business, but for the entire value chain, including employees, the community and the supply chain,” said Ozoux.

Ozoux said many people would lose their livelihoods as businesses of all sizes were unable to continue operations.

“We strongly condemn these illegal actions. Looted commodities are being offered at prices much lower than normal pricing on numerous social media posts. We do not support, under any circumstance, the purchase of goods from anyone other than reputable manufacturers and suppliers,” he said.

He urged tyre customers to approach purchases from unknown retailers and individuals with caution, to red-flag people who listed items in bulk and items marked at drastically reduced prices, and to be wary of sellers who were unable to provide proof of purchase on brand-new items, because this could mean they had been illegally obtained.

Ozoux said that purchasing items known to have been stolen not only damaged the economy, but was tantamount to stealing these goods, only at a marked-down fee.

Purchasing through informal channels could encourage more criminal acts and looting in the future.

“We are appealing to the public to refrain from purchasing any suspicious items for sale online,” said Ozoux.

A looted tyres hotline had been set up and people could report known or suspected possession of looted tyres to 011 418 3056 or [email protected]

Global strategy consulting and market intelligence firm Frost & Sullivan said that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, imports of passenger vehicle (PV) tyres into the country dropped by 800 000 units last year compared to the previous year. While European imports decreased by 375 000 units, imports from China dropped by only 105 000 units.

Domestic production of PV tyres was increased to meet local demand and export demand.

The increase in domestic demand between 2019 and 2020 was attributed to the growing “live vehicle” population in the country, which grew at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5 percent to about 7 541 175 last year.

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