WATCH: More trucks set alight as Ramaphosa condemns attacks

Two trucks that were set on fire early Wednesday morning on the N12 between Kingsway and Pansy offramps in Ekurhuleni, 25 November 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the violence and vandalism affecting the road freight industry in recent days.

President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the ongoing truck attacks across the country, as two more trucks were set alight on the N12 at Etwatwa offramp, near Daveyton in Gauteng, while another was shot at on Wednesday morning.

According to the South African Police Service (SAPS), two suspects who were driving a black Golf 1 stopped the trucks coming from the direction of Mpumalanga towards Johannesburg and those travelling in the opposite direction.

The suspects allegedly set two trucks alight and drove off in the direction of Johannesburg. No injuries have been reported.

Cases of Malicious damage to property have been opened for investigation.

At least 25 trucks have been set alight in the past week with a driver losing his life after being shot in one incident.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Ramaphosa said he has directed the Ministers of Employment and Labour, Transport, Home Affairs and Police to submit a report on the attacks.

“As South Africans, we cannot possibly tolerate the mindless and bloody lawlessness with which the road freight industry is being targeted,” said Ramaphosa.

“We cannot tolerate this loss of life and destruction of property.”

READ MORE: Burning trucks is ‘economic sabotage’, says economist

Two trucks that were set on fire early Wednesday morning on the N12 between Kingsway and Pansy offramps in Ekurhuleni, 25 November 2020. Pictures Neil McCartney

Shutdown

According to All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa (ATDFASA), a national shutdown – scheduled to take place from 23 November to 25 November – was a protest against the employment of foreign national drivers in the SA trucking industry.

“Truck owners prefer foreign national drivers because they don’t want to comply with the labour law and with the main collective agreement of the NBCRFLI [National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry] because foreign national drivers are cheap labour for them and work like slaves with long hours for them because foreign drivers do not complain,” the organisation said earlier.

“We, as ATDFASA, have talked about this for more than three years but no change has been done and the same issue continues.”

‘Economic sabotage’

Economist Mike Schussler told The Citizen that the ongoing attacks on truck would set of a chain reaction as insurance will skyrocket and drivers will start to demand danger pay in an economy that is already in deep trouble.

He also doubted whether government had the political capital to take on the problem. He often worked with the transport industry and talked to all the stakeholders on a regular basis.

Schussler also did not agree with the NBCRFLI’s argument regarding foreign drivers: “It is a ruse or ploy for people who try to create jobs for others and themselves. They scare off truck drivers and then offer their jobs to others who have to pay them for the jobs. The NBCRFLI already got its lawyers to write to them.”

Two trucks that were set on fire early Wednesday morning on the N12 between Kingsway and Pansy offramps in Ekurhuleni, 25 November 2020. Pictures Neil McCartney

Truck hijacking

On Tuesday, police arrested three suspects believed to be involved in a courier truck hijacking in the West Rand.

According to Captain Kay Makhubele, police from West Rand K9 received information to be on the lookout for a vehicle believed to be involved in the courier truck hijacking in West Rand.

As the K9 members were patrolling, they identified the VW Polo Classic vehicle on Main Reef Road towards Johannesburg with three occupants inside.

“A chase ensued and the suspects started shooting at the police; the police returned fire and managed to intercept the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently searched and stolen property, believed to have been stolen from the hijacked truck, was recovered in the vehicle; the three suspects, aged 34, 39 and 45-years, have been arrested.

Also read: UPDATE: Case of murder opened after driver killed, more trucks torched (video)

“During the arrest police also seized two unlicensed firearms believed to have been used in the commission of the truck hijacking. The firearms will be subjected to ballistic testing to determine whether might be linked to other crimes committed,” said Makhubele.

The suspects are facing a charge of truck hijacking and possession of unlicensed firearms.

They are expected to appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court soon.

(Additional reporting by News24).

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