Cops fail to halt truck mayhem

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IOL news oct 9  PN Burnt Truck 8355 (29115142) THE STAR File photo: Two Albany Bread lorries were set alight in Germiston as the truck strike mayhem continued to spread and intensify. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg -

Metro police were unable to stop eight incidents of truck burning across Ekurhuleni on Monday despite the introduction of a rapid-response task team last week.

No arrests were made on Monday, as the trucking strike continued, with negotiations stalled and petrol pumps running dry.

For a couple of hours on Monday morning, metro police were desperately searching for a driver who had abandoned his vehicle at the corner of the R25 and Pretoria Road in Kempton Park.

This was after his truck had been petrol-bombed.

“We found the driver in [the] Kempton Park CBD. He was suffering from dehydration after running all the way,” said Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department [EMPD] spokesman Inspector Kobeli Mokheseng. The driver had covered a distance of about 14km.”

In another incident on Monday morning, a truck was set alight. Three cellphones were stolen from the drivers and 60 loaves of bread taken. There were no reported injuries to any of the drivers on Monday.

The EMPD formed a task team last week to deal with the violence, which is particularly focused in Ekurhuleni.

The team is made up of an assortment of units, including the freeway patrol, the intervention unit and the equestrian unit.

Their mission is to patrol areas where attacks are likely to take place and to respond quickly to incidents.

During one incident, metro police officers were quick enough on scene to douse the fire on the truck.

Mokheseng said the units had also been hampered by the fact that witnesses at the scene of these attacks were reluctant to speak to officers.

MC Lamprecht, the chairman of the South Africa Petroleum Retailers Association, said there was increased pressure on the fuel supply chain.

“We have established that a third of petrol stations, mainly in Gauteng, have either run dry or have run out of one or two main grade products,” he said.

Lamprecht said the pressure on the fuel supply chain had lessened at the end of last week, but on Monday demand had increased. Lamprecht said plans were in place to protect tankers delivering fuel.

“If drivers are feeling uncomfortable, they can either call on private security or police to escort them,” he said.

On Monday night, the Road Freight Employers Association said talks with unions associated with the truckers strike would take place on Tuesday under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Ministry of Labour officials would also be attending.

The Star

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