Nelspruit total shutdown over fuel elicits opposing views

The petrol price went up again this week Wednesday. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

The petrol price went up again this week Wednesday. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 6, 2022


Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane

While thousands of South Africans were still discussing a national shutdown on Twitter, taxi drivers and angry community members brought Mpumalanga's capital city to a halt on Wednesday, over high fuel prices.

Workers, travelling from different townships and suburbs, found themselves stuck on the road, without any hope of accessing the inner city, where they eke out a living.

The #NelspruitShutdown started all the way from White River up to the Ngodwana area on the N4, and back-circling towards the N4 towards Malalane, near the Mozambican border.

“It was another morning to me when I drove the car out of my yard and started heading out to Mbombela city. That's when I received a call warning me to stay far away from the R40 road. The videos I received shocked me. I had to call my superiors and inform them of the situation but they told me they too could not report to work,” said Shane Sambo, from Hazyview.

Sambo said later during the day, he heard that the protests were cropping up in Mkhuhlu, just outside the Hazyview town.

“It looks like this thing will spread all over the province by tomorrow,” he said.

Other workers stuck between Kanyamazane and Mbombela took videos and pictures, to demonstrate to their employers that they were not absconding.

All shops and courts in Mbombela were shut down.

The protesters used taxis and trucks to barricade the different entrance points towards the capital city.

“We want Ramaphosa to think again. You cannot expect peace when petrol prices are skyrocketing. Now the taxi bosses we drive for will have to raise their prices, forcing commuters to end up working for travel costs only,” said a taxi driver from Kabokweni, who asked not to be named.

The shutdown was also trending on Twitter, with some disagreeing with how it was being conducted.

@Spaceman_za wrote: “Nelspruit don't strike on social media. All roads coming out of townships closed and roads going into the town of Mbombela on lockdown. #FuelPrices #NationalShutdown.”

Many tweeps condemned how this was affecting innocent people, while also stating that fuel prices affected motorists globally.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala failed to respond to text messages about the shutdown by the time of publication.