KwaZulu-Natal police have arrested 20 people following violent truck protests over the weekend, said spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said on Monday.
Naicker said it was a busy weekend for police who dealt with a number of trucking industry-related strikes in various parts of the province.
Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula welcomed the arrests.
“Police operations have been intensified along major routes and known hotspots within the province and we are on high alert for those who are resorting to acts of criminality and claim to be protesting. We shall have no mercy for those that break the laws of this country,” he said.
Naicker said the latest arrest was made in the early hours of Monday when five people were detained in Estcourt, near the Shell Ultra City.
“The vehicle that they were travelling in was positively identified in a case where a truck was set alight. The suspects were found in possession of receptacles containing petrol. They were detained at Estcourt SAPS for attempted murder and malicious damage to property.”
Sunday was also a busy day for police in Richards Bay where 11 trucks blocked the harbour at around 2pm.
“Police responded instantly and managed to locate the drivers of the vehicles. Eleven suspects were arrested and detained at Richards Bay SAPS for public violence and obstruction of traffic.”
Later on Sunday, in the Malvern area, four people were arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm with 15 rounds of ammunition.
Naicker said they were also found in possession of three bottles of petrol, seven cellphones and a pair of gloves.
“Police also seized the vehicle that they were travelling in. They were detained at Malvern SAPS for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. Investigations into their involvement in other crimes [are] continuing.”
It was previously reported that the ministers of employment and labour, police, transport and home affairs convened an urgent meeting on Sunday evening to discuss the continued violence in the trucking industry and to plot a way forward.
In a joint statement, the ministries noted that incidents against drivers and their vehicles were becoming more violent and criminal.
There are rumours of a planned strike in the industry on Monday and Tuesday, from which the road freight and logistics sector truck drivers associations have distanced themselves.
In June, at least 20 trucks per week were torched in the space of three weeks, News24 reported.
High-level meetings between truck owners, drivers and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, and Police Minister Bheki Cele were held in Durban at the beginning of June.
Police arrested 91 people following the previous attacks.