Six trucks torched in KZN as wave of protests erupt over foreign drivers
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Durban - Violent protests across the country have resulted in several trucks being torched and highways blockaded.
The protesters are thought to be truck drivers opposed to the employment of foreigners in the industry.
Six trucks have been torched in KwaZulu-Natal since the drivers’ national shutdown began on Tuesday.
On Wednesday traffic was disrupted by trucks on the M4 south and M25 near KwaMashu, as well as the N2 north near the Pavilion.
News of the planned shutdown was reported on Monday when disgruntled drivers called for foreign drivers to go.
All Truck Drivers Foundation head Sipho Zungu said they would support the protesters, but distanced the organisation from acts of violence during the shutdown.
Metro police confirmed that the M4 south was blocked off, and that trucks had been left abandoned on the M25 and N2, blocking the roads and bringing traffic to a standstill.
In June last year, after several trucks were torched during violent protest action over the same issue, a task team comprising Labour, Home Affairs and Transport department officials, and representatives of the Premier’s Office and truck owners’ and drivers’ associations, formed a task team.
“The foundation did not initiate this shutdown. Maybe the drivers have embarked on it because the foundation's leadership have not received any tangible feedback on the matter from the government,” said Zungu.
Transport MEC Bheki Ntuli condemned the torching of four trucks on Tuesday night on the R103, while one truck was set alight along the N3 near Nottingham Road. Also, that a truck was petrol bombed in Bayhead, Durban.
“Any person who burns trucks or disrupts traffic by blockading roads conducts a criminal act and will be charged and prosecuted.
"There will be zero tolerance for any intimidation against truck drivers as well as other road users.
"We acknowledge that people are free to exercise their constitutional rights to protest, but they should do so in a peaceful manner without damaging property, injuring law-abiding citizens or blocking roads, thus preventing others from going to school and work,” he said.
Department spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said the government had embarked on a process to address the challenges facing truck drivers through the road freight and logistics interministerial task team set up last year.
“This issue is being handled by the national and provincial task teams led by the Department of Employment and Labour and the KZN Premier’s Office respectively,” she said.
Two trucks abandoned on the M4 south and M25 near KwaMashu yesterday were removed by the police.
They are investigating the incidents and no arrests were made.
SA Road Freight Employers’ Association chief executive Gavin Kelly said no resolution had been reached yet.
“The discussions are under way.”
In the Western Cape, the N1 towards Paarl was closed and reopened yesterday after two trucks were set alight, with motorists advised to use alternative routes.
Ebrahim Rasool, the director of OneAfrica.org, a public benefit organisation that works with African communities, governments and businesses to strengthen social and economic cohesion, said threats by striking truck drivers to attack and seize the keys of trucks belonging to foreign national drivers amounted to xenophobic hate speech and could not be tolerated.
The SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union distanced itself from the strike.