South African truck drivers are demanding that employers lay-off all foreign nationals driving their trucks, with immediate effect. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
South African truck drivers are demanding that employers lay-off all foreign nationals driving their trucks, with immediate effect. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

SAPS warns against violence towards foreigners ahead of national truck shutdown

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Jul 7, 2020

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PRETORIA - The South African government’s National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS), made up of various government departments in the security cluster, on Tuesday issued directives to law enforcement agencies, including the South African Police Service, to activate their contingency plans in all provinces to ensure that the planned national truck shutdown was policed efficiently through priority deployments at identified key areas. 

In a statement, SAPS national spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the planned shutdown was preceded by sporadic attacks on trucks on various national roads across all provinces and social media messages calling for the disruption of traffic and attacks on local trucks driven by foreign nationals in the face of high unemployment locally. 

“Members of the South African Police Service and all law enforcement agencies will continue to apply fundamental policing principles, guided by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Gatherings Act 1993 (Act 205 of 1993) as well the current state of disaster regulations,” said Naidoo. 

“There will be zero tolerance to any intimidation against truck drivers as well as other road users. Law enforcement will ensure that there are no criminal activities and that the lives of law-abiding citizens are not put in danger.” 

The task team established by President Cyril Ramaphosa, consisting of the ministers of home affairs, employment and labour, police and transport, were fully briefed on the outcomes of the road freight and logistics task team's virtual meeting convened by the KwaZulu-Natal premier's office. 

“Other participants included the Independent Trucking Business representatives and the National Truck Drivers Foundation (NTDF). The All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) did not attend the meeting despite being invited." 

The government ministries said they had noted the various concerns of the independent trucking industry representatives and urged them to work closely with the law enforcement agencies. 

The government ministries acknowledged the growing public concerns around the continued presence of foreign nationals in the trucking, security, agriculture, construction, hospitality and domestic sectors, among others, in the midst of high unemployment in South Africa. 

However, the road freight industry workers were urged to air their grievances and to stage protests within the confines of the law as it was within their right to do so. 

Protesters were also reminded that the country was still under the state of disaster and the public had to abide by the disaster management regulations that govern the state of disaster, one of which prohibits gatherings other than a funeral, church service and gathering for work-related purposes. 

As tensions continue to rise in the country, with threats of attacks on foreign nationals circulating widely on social media, the government on Saturday urged law enforcement authorities to act against people circulating propaganda threatening foreign nationals living in the country with violence. 

“Government notes the content of a poster circulating on social media which seeks to sow discord among South Africans and foreign nationals living together in communities,” government spokesperson Phumla Williams said. 

“Government strongly condemns the violence that is mooted and calls on all South Africans to desist from any actions that go against the laws of the country. It is unfortunate that such (a) message is intended to sow divisions among South Africans and foreign nationals.” 

Williams said the intentions mooted by the supposedly South African groups went against “the spirit of social cohesion, and attempts to regress the gains we have made as a country”. All South Africans should champion a peaceful coexistence and good relations with all who live in South Africa. 

“Government calls on the law enforcement agencies to take the necessary action against those responsible. Any attack on property and foreign-owned business are not reflective of who we are as a country and violates the values that we embody. South Africa is a constitutional democracy which is governed by the laws of the country,” said Williams. 

South Africa’s economy has drawn numerous foreign nationals to its shores, but over the years violent attacks have been witnessed on foreigners, leaving many people dead. 

African News Agency

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