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Four slapped with economic sabotage charges over N3 truck chaos

KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and the uThukela district commander on scene at Van Reenen’s Pass. Picture: Supplied/SAPS

KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and the uThukela district commander on scene at Van Reenen’s Pass. Picture: Supplied/SAPS

Published Jun 17, 2022

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Durban – Four men have been arrested over Thursday's truck protest on the N3. Provincial SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the men, aged between 40 and 59, have been arrested on charges of obstructing a national route, damaging or interfering with essential infrastructure and economic sabotage.

Traffic along the N3 at Van Reenen's Pass was closed to traffic after several trucks were lined up across the busy stretch of road.

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Naicker said trucks closed off both lanes, including the area around Windy Corner, and the drivers had taken the keys and fled.

According to the Department of Transport, a meeting was held with truckers earlier in the week to address their grievances.

Minister Fikile Mbalula said he has taken note of the sluggish pace of implementing interventions in areas agreed upon.

“A follow-up engagement is scheduled for Sunday, June 19, with all the stakeholders. We must ensure all appreciate that we all have a responsibility to ensure that economic activity is not hampered as this will inevitably lead to job losses as a result of economic downturn,” Mbalula said.

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Meanwhile, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC said KZN, and the country as a whole, could not afford more disruptions to the economy after so many disasters such as Covid-19, the looting in July last year and floods this year.

“While we have listed the major occurrences, other factors such as petrol hikes and interest rates have been in the background, further (affecting) businesses and, eventually, the consumers. In essence, this problem is no longer a business problem, but a consumer affecting problem too, one that is avoidable and criminal,” said the chamber's Nigel Ward.

Ward added that the KZN economy was reliant on the N3 corridor – it was a critical trade route that connected the harbours to towns and cities inland, a key import and export route, as well as domestic trade route for all sectors.

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“Hence, such behaviour cannot become a norm for addressing social issues in South Africa when so many other functional platforms exist. These acts cannot only be viewed as acts of sabotage towards the businesses directly affected, but this affects all members of society due to the far-reaching economic consequences,” he said.

Ward said congestion, road closures and concerns of safety along the N3 were increasing and this should no longer be tolerated. These factors created uncertainty and delays in freight turnaround times, and creating additional costs for businesses and other economic problems.

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