Two trucks were looted on Thursday morning after being forced to stop on the N1 in De Doorns, in the Western Cape Winelands, because of burning tyres on the road.
In videos taken at the scene, a group of people is seen crowding around the trucks to grab goods through the tarpaulin.
Some are seen running away with large television boxes balanced precariously on their heads, while some enlisted the help of others to lighten their load.
Police detectives were said to be going door-to-door in the area to search for the looted items.
Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said the N1 was closed in both directions due to public unrest, with the situation described earlier as “very tense and volatile”.
Breede Valley Municipality mayoral committee member for safety and security, Juben von Willingh, told News24 that they were not sure why people had blocked the N1 early in the morning.
“They burnt tyres, but the reason? We are not sure of that. No one has come forward with demands,” he said.
He believed a criminal element took advantage of the situation and said no protesters were currently gathered in the area.
“Intelligence and police are currently on the scene. We just know at the moment that they stripped both trucks. All the stuff has been stolen.”
One of the trucks belonged to the Buonadonna Group.
De Doorns Western Cape. Looting… pic.twitter.com/vldK8694Rh
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) November 7, 2019
Amica Buonadonna told News24 that their driver had seen the truck in front of him being looted and ran away because he was scared.
They logged a call to their vehicle reaction company around 6.45am, but by the time the team was allowed through to the truck, it was too late and everything was gone.
“They took everything. All the smart televisions and they also started vandalising the truck. They stripped it of batteries, the fuse boxes, cameras and electronics,” she said.
The looters had knives with them and managed to cut the tarpaulin, as well as all the straps and wrapping on the pallets.
“It’s not an easy job to get to the televisions,” Buonadonna said.
“They think it’s fine because everything is insured, but what they don’t realise is that the more claims you have, the higher your premiums. It’s killing the transport companies and completely out of hand.”
Western Cape police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed that public order policing and other law enforcement agencies were on the scene.
“Police are following up on the people who looted the truck… No one has been arrested so far and the traffic has been diverted,” she said.
Africa said motorists coming from Touws River should turn right at the foot of the Hex River Pass to get back onto the N1. Those coming from Worcester should turn left into De Doorns and connect back on the N1 at the foot of the pass.