A cyber attack has disrupted container operations at the South African port of Cape Town, affecting its operating systems. Durban, the busiest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa, was also affected.
Transnet’s official website was down late Thursday, showing an error message. Transnet, which operates major South African ports, including Durban and Cape Town, and a huge railway network that transports minerals and other commodities for export, confirmed its IT applications were experiencing disruptions and it was identifying the cause.
“Please note that the port operating systems have been cyber-attacked and there will be no movement of cargo until the system is restored,” Cape Town Harbour Carriers Association said in an email to members, declining to comment on whether a cyber attack caused the disruption.
Most of the copper and cobalt, metals critical to the green energy transition, are mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, where miners such as Glencore and Barrick Gold operate.
In a media statement Friday, Barrick confirmed it does not use the port of Durban to export gold.
The disruption is the second in about a week. Transnet declared force majeure on its Natcor line, which links the east coast city of Durban with the towns of Port Shepstone, Kroonstad, Richards Bay and the main economic hub of Gauteng, because of riots in parts of the country earlier this month.
The company had to switch from the software system developed by Navis, which was acquired by Accel-KKR this month, to asking shippers to supply physical copies of the so-called Container Terminal Order in Durban, according to a notice Transnet sent to customers.
The latest disruption has delayed containers and auto parts, but commodities will mostly be unaffected as they were in a different part of the port, a source told Reuters.
It will also create backlogs that could take time to clear. Transnet said its container terminals were disrupted while its freight rail, pipeline, engineering and property divisions reported normal activity.
That has hit the movement of cargo in a port that handles 60% of the nation’s shipments. Should the disruption extend, it will be the third obstacle to South Africa’s economic recovery this year after the pandemic, and last week’s deadly riots.
(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)