he minerals and energy department says a flood of complaints has forced it to review this week’s ban on filling containers with petrol and diesel.
The ban followed widespread looting and torching of infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week, and is intended to prevent hoarding.
The department said on Friday it had “considered the concerns it has received” and planned to clarify the meaning of “container”.
“For the purposes of these regulations, a ‘container’ refers to an object that is not approved for the holding or transporting of petrol and diesel according to the relevant SA National Standards,” it said.
“An amendment that contains the revised definition will be issued and gazetted soon.
“The department recognises the anxiety and confusion that may have been created, particularly its potentially adverse effect on regular and valid consumers.
“We further wish to assure the public that fuel supply in areas affected by the unrest is gradually returning to normal and expected to be in smooth and full operation soon. Fuel shortages in areas not affected by the unrest are not expected to materialise.”
The legal team at civil rights group DearSA wrote to mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe on Friday about the ban.
“The purpose of this letter is to raise certain adverse consequences caused by the lack of public participation in drafting the regulations, as well as to request that the regulations be reconsidered or alternatively amended,” said lawyer Daniël Eloff.
“[DearSA] has been inundated with feedback from the public regarding the adverse and far-reaching consequences of the regulations and its impact on various businesses and organisations.”
Eloff described the amended regulations as unlawful, procedurally unfair, irrational and unreasonable.
“The regulations would have been significantly less unpractical and unreasonable if a process of public participation had been followed,” he said.
“The term ‘containers’ is vaguely defined in the regulations as ‘an object for holding or transporting petroleum products, other than a vehicle’.
“This has caused widespread confusion, not only among consumers but petrol station owners and employees as well.”
He requested that the regulations be repealed and gave Mantashe until the close of business on Monday.