Police Minister Becky Seeley said his information indicated the attacks on the trucks could be business-related rather than random acts of criminality. OK, but what does that mean? Is he suggesting that truckers from one organization are trying to take out members of another? If so, which one?
He pointed out that the evidence points to coordinated and sophisticated operations aimed at undermining and sabotaging the state. Now it got even more confusing. So actions are treachery? But Seely is quick to say that there is no connection between these incidents and the July riots two years ago.
This is clear in the sense that the attacks are not intended to loot. None of the trucks were looted, they all just burned. But the security services’ claim that some aspects of the July riots were intended to subvert the state, hence the echoes of Seely’s comments. I think Seely is just trying to talk about the nature of the crime to gain public support – but who knows?
Well, how about the Road Freight Association – sure they have a sense of motives? Gavin Kelly, the association’s chief executive, noted that the attacks related to foreign drivers and broader grievances about working conditions. He pointed the finger at the All Truck Drivers’ Forum, who denied any connection in statements and on social media – as they would. This is more specific than the explanation given by the police, but it’s still a bit vague.
There is something else Kelly says that points to a possible motive. He’s very clear about how confident he is that the police can get this under control: “Zero,” he says emphatically. And we have not seen one case, not one, where those who committed this sort of thing were brought to trial. He said, “I haven’t seen one.” Daily Maverick Reporter Ed Stoddard.
Therein lies the problem: a sense of the criminal is not sufficiently embedded in our culture. Burning schools and impunity is rampant, and if so, what is wrong with burning trucks?
In some ways, the criminal justice system should be the last resort in spreading a system of social norms. It’s a harsh system, but socially that’s the way it should work. But in South Australia, that system has been undermined by two things: corruption at the national level, which I suspect encourages a general lack of accountability; and effective insecurity at the local level. Gradually, the forces of chaos began to advance, and the result was a social tragedy.
I suspect that truck burning occurs at least in part for the most obvious reason: because there are no consequences as a result of the procedure. In this sense, they are a microcosm of the larger problem of criminality in South Africa. DM