Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has called on the police to arrest the perpetrators behind the on-going N3 truck protest saw seven trucks set alight on Thursday morning. Picture: Supplied

DURBAN-   Transport Minister Blade Nzimande has called on the police to arrest the perpetrators behind the on-going N3 truck protest saw seven trucks set alight on Thursday morning. 

Nzimande said these kind of acts were sabotaging the economy. 

“It is disingenuous for some truck drivers to block the road or engage in any protest while there are current engagements between the government and the All Truck Drivers Foundation,” said Nzimande.

“The Department of Transport took the initiative to get the relevant stakeholders to resolve the matter as a labour dispute. The Department of Labour was tasked with conducting unannounced inspections of unscrupulous employers who disregarded the country’s labour laws. We are waiting for feedback,” said Nzimande.

It came as clean-up crews removed the burnt out shells of trucks, set alight in a protest, from the N3 between Mooi River and Escourt on Thursday. 

Con Roux, Commercial Manager of N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) confirmed that seven trucks were set alight between last night and early this morning. 

Roux said five trucks were burnt on the northbound lanes and two on the southbound lanes. By 8 am, Roux said clean up teams and towing companies cleared the southbound lanes and re-opened them to traffic. 

Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane, a police spokesperson, said that a group of men armed with sticks, shamboks and irons blockaded N3 freeway northbound and forced five truck drivers out of the trucks. 

"They set the trucks alight and proceeded to southbound lane where they burnt two truck before fleeing the scene. A total of seven trucks were burned extensively. The drivers sustained no injuries," Zwane said.  

Charges of malicious damage to property were opened at Mooi River police station for investigation.

At the time of reporting the northbound lanes were still closed due to the recovery of the trucks and clean up. Roux said two trucks had been removed from the northbound lane by 8 am. 

Traffic had been diverted onto the R103 in the interim. Roux said there were many complicated recoveries due to the extensive damage done to the trucks. 

The protest is against people from countries outside of South Africa working for lesser wages and putting local truck drivers out of work. The protest has escalated since Sunday when the N3 highway at Key Ridge before the Peacevale off-ramp was blocked with trucks. 

During the week truck drivers without SA identities were pulled out of the driver's cab by protestors on Bayhead Road. 

Sipho Zungu of the All Truck Drivers Foundation, said they need all SA citizen truck drivers to join and unite to save their jobs from being taken away from them by foreign nationals. 

Daily News