KwaZulu-Natal authorities and law enforcement agencies were on high alert on Tuesday – the second anniversary of the July 2021 unrest – after more than 16 trucks were torched in KZN, Mpumalanga and Limpopo in the past few days.
Eight trucks were set on fire in KZN – six on the Van Reenen Pass section of the N3 and two on the N2 near Empangeni on the northern KZN coast. Three trucks burned in Limpopo Sekhukhun district Five were burned in Mpumalanga.
The incidents are a major embarrassment to the government, which is hosting the 41st Annual South African Transport Conference (SATC 2023), which is being held in Pretoria and Cannes. It was opened by the Minister of Transport Chikunga is saved.
After the gradual deterioration of The railway system in South AfricaIt is estimated that between 80% and 90% of the import and export commodities are transported by trucks on the country’s highways and any disruption puts further pressure on the economy. Hence, government leaders, including Chikunga, have referred to the recent arson attacks as “economic sabotage and criminal acts”.
The accidents have eroded stakeholder confidence in the government and its law enforcement agencies to deal with the mounting problems of chaos and instability on South African roads. Sporadic attacks by gunmen on truck drivers have been happening for five years now.
During the July 2021 riots, the major turning point came with Ignition of about 25 trucks and trailers, including a car carrier in which new BMWs burned out. Truck drivers spent more than two days removing the burnt “corpses”.
After these events, the riots spread throughout the province and into Gauteng, resulting in over 350 deaths and wholesale destruction of property. The economy suffered more than 50 billion rand in damage from a few days of chaos.
The riots began to protest the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.
There has been speculation that the recent truck arson was a deliberate attempt to coincide with a regional transport conference to embarrass the government and highlight xenophobic complaints by SA drivers against hiring foreign nationals.
However, the perpetrators appear to have had the support of some prominent figures involved in the run-up to the riots in July 2021. Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla was among those who tweeted in support of those burning the trucks, saying they were preserving the spirit that led to the riots in July. “Kfood [By the way] It’s July. The month of flamesshe tweeted.
The All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), a group of South African truck drivers who advocate for hiring local drivers rather than foreign ones, has been blamed in the past for the chaos in the trucking industry.
ATDF spokesman Gogo Sukhela denied that his organization was behind the recent torch operations, but said he could neither confirm nor deny whether some of its members were involved in the incidents.
“a lot of anger”
“We cannot confirm if they are our members. But I know there is a lot of anger about hiring foreign drivers. Some of our members are angry, and many other truck drivers are also angry about the current situation.”
KZN government has set up a task force to investigate the attacks on trucks in the province, said Kwanili Nkalani, spokesperson for the KZN Ministry of Transport.
“this [is] Economic sabotage, because no one in the industry can claim that the government has not opened doors for participation. Therefore, if there are legitimate concerns, they will be subject to discussions and negotiations.
We consider this to be purely criminal acts and hence should be dealt with from now on. We are encouraged that the police have established a dedicated team to investigate the unions involved.”
KZN police spokesman Jay Necker said the task force will hunt down the arsonists and work with other agencies across the country.
Overland Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly said it’s been clear over the past five years that truck burnings were a concerted effort by people who know what they’re doing.
Kelly said the police and government had not responded to the association’s appeal for contingency plans for the highways as the trucks caught fire. He said the shipping industry has lost faith in SAPS and other law enforcement agencies.
“This is very worrying [for everyone in the trucking industry]. Obviously, these are not indiscriminate attacks. “There’s a lot of planning involved,” he said.
Kelly said the planners of the attacks appeared to have carefully chosen “weak spots” – long stretches of road with little or no security where trucks drove slowly – so they could cause maximum damage and disappear quickly. He said that this modus operandi has been in place for the past five years and that the police have failed to make any meaningful arrests.
The Democratic Alliance says well-organized mafia gangs are responsible for the truck attacks and that the government should bring charges of terrorism and economic sabotage.
The DA will open a case in connection with the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorism and Related Activities Act (Pocdatara Act) and demand that the police conduct a full and proper investigation into the attacks. The party believes that “indicting these economic terrorists under the Bokdattara Act will send a strong message to any criminal who intends to commit such acts of vandalism.
The DA unreservedly condemns these strategically calculated attacks on our road freight sector in the past few days. These attacks threaten our national stability and strike at the heart of our economy.
These are not isolated incidents. The sheer precision and efficiency indicate an alarming level of coordination that has outperformed SAPS. “It is a failure of our law enforcement intelligence arm, which reflects the incompetence shown during the July 2021 unrest that took a devastating human and economic toll,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Police Minister Biki Seeley and senior SAPS officers will give a briefing on Wednesday 12 July “on the police response to violence targeting freighters in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng”. DM