The Natal Towing Association has spoken out strongly against any criminal activity in the towing industry, Zululand Observer reports.
Responding to a previous Zululand Observer article on a local meeting over the issue, at which the NTA feels it was misrepresented, Julian Pillay: Manager – Regulatory Compliance & Associational Director of NTA, said at no time were the incidents in the Empangeni/Richards Bay area brought to the association’s attention.
“The Natal Towing Association has always viewed ‘turf wars’, aka ‘jamming’, as a serious criminal offence and a violation of a basic constitutional right of freedom of movement afforded to all South African citizens.
“Over the past few years it has become common practice not only by unscrupulous tow operators, but by some rogue elements in rural areas as well,” said Pillay.
“The intimidation and extortion which accompanies this is frighteningly violent, often with high powered firearms and handguns.
“What disturbed us most in the beginning was when assistance was requested by law authorities, it was deemed a civil matter.
“As a result of this the client who requested a specific tow operator’s assistance, as it is his or her right as per the Consumer Protection Act, the service provider out of fear would either not respond or have to pay exorbitant amounts demanded for safe passage to and from the scene.
“Drivers were held at gunpoint and often both the clients’ and the tow rig vehicles were threatened to be set alight by these rogue operators.
“As soon as our members brought this to our attention, the NTA requested the intervention of SAPS’ provincial Head Office.
“Since then Col Naidoo and Capt Govender have been of great assistance in instances of ‘turf wars’.
“As soon as an incident is brought to our attention where the local SAPS station refused to assist, they have intervened and resolved the situation,’ said Pillay
“In more recent times we have also effectively assisted non-members who have brought these incidents to our attention.
“We are extremely grateful to them and to SAPS for the assistance provided so far.”
Pillay said the towing industry is addressing the underlying issues behind the ‘turf wars’ situation.