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  • Transnet is using "manual" systems after some IT systems were shut down on Thursday morning.
  • The cause is still unknown, though customers are speculating about a breach or hack.
  • The company on Thursday morning told its customers that it had activated business continuity plans, and pleaded for their understanding.
  • Port operations in Durban and Richards Bay had just returned to normal after unrest.
  • Transnet confirmed disruption at its container terminals, but said freight rail and pipelines were operating normally.
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Some of South Africa's ports were not moving any containers on Thursday morning due to IT trouble at Transnet reportedly due to a hack – though Transnet said it is still investigating.

The company on Thursday morning told its customers it had moved to "manual" systems after shutting down IT applications. It said it had activated business continuity plans and pleaded for "patience and understanding".

The key ports of Durban and Richards Bay had just started to return to normal, as had the critical rail line between Durban and Gauteng, after disruption from riots and looting.

Freight customers confirmed the emergency message, but did not know the reason for the shutdown. They told Business Insider South Africa that the unprecedented nature of the notice had their industry buzzing about a breach or hack, with concern about recent global instances of ransomware attacks.

A source at the Durban harbour said they had been told it was a "cyber attack", Reuters reported.

In a brief statement in response to questions, Transnet said container terminals "on the trucking side" had been affected, due to trouble with its NAVIS system. But operations were normal in freight rail and pipelines, as well as in its engineering and property divisions, it said.

"The Ports Authority continues to operate, and vessels moving in and out of the ports are being recorded manually.

"Customers have been made aware of the disruption and are being engaged throughout the process.

"Work is underway to reduce the downtime to ensure that the impacted systems are up and running again as soon as possible."

It provided no other detail of the root problem, saying only that "the source of this problem is being identified".

This is a developing story. 

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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