Bishop Victor Phalana, Chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission,
Bishop Victor Phalana, Chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission,

Catholic Bishops call for an end to the torching of trucks

By Brandstories Time of article published Nov 30, 2020

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SACBC Justice and Peace Commission strongly condemns the recent torching of trucks and violent assault on foreign drivers.

As the truck drivers foundation (ATDF) has denied any involvement in the arson attacks, and given that nobody has taken direct responsibility for the attacks, we call on the government intelligence to urgently investigate who is behind the attacks and ensure that perpetrators are quickly brought to justice.

They should particularly investigate if there is involvement of syndicates, economic sabotage, which have taken advantage of the grievances and concerns of the local drivers.

Given the dire situation in our economy, this is not a time for economic sabotage and blind pursuit of factional interests at the expense of the common good. It is a time to work together to rebuild our economy for the benefit of job creation for the poor. We therefore make a strong appeal to those involved in the attacks to stop what they are doing and prioritize the public good of our nation.

We say to you:

No more assault and killing of truck drivers.

No more torching of trucks.

In our country, the road freight industry is critical for economic recovery and job creation. A serious disruption of such an industry has therefore far reaching consequences for our nation, including a substantial damage to an already fragile economy which is clearly struggling to recover from adverse effects of Covid-19.

This is not a new problem.

The volatile situation in the road freight industry, which is linked to the concerns of the local drivers, have been going on for more than 18 months. It is clear that the recent establishment of an inter-ministerial task team has not resolved the impasse. We therefore make a strong appeal to the president and the inter-ministerial task team to take the country into its trust and explain the lack of progress in addressing the concerns of local drivers.

Lack of regular communication on the part of the inter-ministerial task creates an impression, especially on the local drivers, that the government is not serious about their concerns. We also ask the parliament to be more pro-active and consistent in demanding answers and accountability from the inter-ministerial task team. It should not do its oversight function on this matter only when the situation escalates to arson attacks and death of a truck driver.

We have also noted with sadness that SADC cross-border driver association has signalled its intention to retaliate if the attacks on its drivers continue with impunity. We call on them to exercise restraint, refrain from retaliation and consider peaceful resolution of problem. An all-out war in the road freight industry will inflict further harm to a regional economy which is already in deep trouble.

In a situation which is clearly volatile, we also call on the truck driver foundation (ATDF) to refrain from xenophobic statements which we consider to be a de facto incitement to public violence. We believe that a resolution of concerns can be found without the shutting down of roads, torching of trucks and assault on truck drivers.

Violence, unfortunately, is a vicious cycle, and one that is hard to break. It is important for us to realize that violence is never an answer in any situation. If you try to fight fire with fire, you only get a bigger fire (or an inferno), and an inferno is practically impossible to put out. Nothing good ever comes out of violent acts. In the end, it is always a lose-lose situation.

For more details, contact: Bishop Victor Phalana, Chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, 0824707151.

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