Durban harbour: Ships have avoided the port recently. Picture: 123RF/Andriy Migyelyev
Durban harbour: Ships have avoided the port recently. Picture: 123RF/Andriy Migyelyev

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.

We’ll never know what the crew of the good ship Leonidio might have made of the aphorism, if any, or whether they just saw red over Durban and decided not to hang around. The Leonidio had set sail from Port Elizabeth on July 12 and arrived in the outer anchorage of Durban a day or so later.

If you can see ships from the shore, it’s likely those on the ships could see smoke from burning trucks and warehouses blotting out the setting sun in Durban.

The crew weighed anchor some time on July 15 and departed without making the scheduled call at SA’s busiest port. The official reason was that the port was closed due to the unrest which, among other things, meant that people who operated the container cranes in the docks couldn’t get to work.

And it didn’t help that the 668km Natcor railway line, as well as the N3, the critical arteries that carry goods to the north, were also closed.

While a semblance of order was rapidly restored, the Leonidio was not the only vessel to give Durban a wide berth in recent days, and apologies for the pun.

The smoke from the foiled insurrection was only just clearing on the sea breeze when hackers shut down the IT systems at Transnet, which led to the ports being closed again, and forced the container ships Rhone Maersk and Horizon to cancel their visits to SA’s warmest seaside destination.

Which, if nothing else, proves once again that while throwing a Molotov cocktail is easy, not to mention visually impressive — especially when "TV" is watching — if you really want to make the country ungovernable, you’re going to need to bring in the hackers too.

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