Mashudu Sadike and Jonisayi Maromo
Pretoria - The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has called on Police Minister Bheki Cele to deploy SAPS to escort trucks carrying goods in and out of Gauteng.
This after six trucks with goods were set alight on the N3 in Van Reenen’s Pass in KwaZulu-Natal, followed by another five trucks which were torched on the N4 in Mpumalanga.
Three more were targeted in Burgersfort in Limpopo.
Yesterday another two trucks were set alight on the N2 highway in Empangeni, KZN.
The union believes the threats are likely to move to Gauteng, especially Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Speaking to Pretoria News yesterday, Satawu spokesperson Amanda Tshemese called on Cele to “do better”.
“Now that they are threatening to do this in Gauteng, we need to do better. Already our economy is collapsing. We are talking about imports and exports of goods that are being transported in and outside the country. We are talking about millions of rand.
“The minister of police needs to act now. They can’t keep their investigation of the matter. The minister needs to make sure the police are visible. They need to escort the trucks.”
The safety of workers was also in jeopardy, she said, while calling on South African companies not to hire illegal immigrants.
“I’m not saying this is the case, but this could be a lesson from South Africans telling companies they are hungry.
“Look, the matter is being investigated at the moment so we don’t want to conclude on anything as yet, but we are of the view that the issue of illegal immigrants being prioritised by South African companies could be one of the reasons for these attacks.
“It could well be triggered by the high unemployment rate so we are calling on government officials to address that matter before it gets too late,” Tshemese said.
In a statement the union condemns the attacks.
“It is in fact a barbaric act that must be dealt with, very harshly. This is an attack on our members and workers in the sector.
“The union is more than anything worried about the safety of its members. It is very clear that the truck drivers are not safe at all in this country. It could have been worse over the weekend, drivers could have lost their lives,” the statement says.
“Satawu is also very concerned that the motive behind this brutality is still unknown. The matter of fact is this, burning of trucks is nothing new in this country. It has been happening for years now and the government is still failing to address this issue, instead it is getting out of control.”
Meanwhile, police in Sekhukhune have launched a manhunt for six people who committed an armed robbery and malicious damage to property after three heavy trucks were burnt.
Limpopo police spokesperson, Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said the incident happened on Monday along the R547 Lydenburg, Road in Sekhukhune.
“According to information, the complainant was driving a Scania truck along the R547 Lydenburg Road, Sekhukhune Road, heading to deliver chrome at a local mine, when he was accosted by six unknown males on the road,” Ledwaba said.
“Two suspects were armed with firearms. He (the driver) was pointed with a firearm and instructed to block the road with the truck, and to disembark through the window. The suspects burned the truck afterwards.”
Ultimately, police said two more trucks, a Scania and a Mercedes-Benz Actros that were driving behind the first truck, were also burnt by the assailants.
The attackers then fled the scene.
“Police and fire brigade personnel were summoned to the scene. The motive of the incident is unknown,” Ledwaba said.
Provincial commissioner of police in Limpopo, Lieutenant-General Thembi Hadebe, has condemned the incidents.
Hadebe has appealed to community members to work with the police to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended.
The police in Limpopo have opened a case of armed robbery and malicious damaged to property.
The police appealed to anyone with information that could assist in the investigation to contact the police on the My SAPS App or Crime Stop on 086 001 0111 or go to the nearest police station.
Police investigations are continuing.