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'Faceless' forces blamed for truck mayhem on SA roads

Sep 02 2019 13:20
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

(Photo: Shutterstock).

As traffic across the country is disrupted by truck blockades, unions and associations representing truck drivers have distanced themselves from the strike, which seeks to cause disruption on South African roads this week.

Meanwhile there remains confusion about who is behind the action, and what the disruptors want.

Two trucks were set alight south of Durban in the early morning hours of Monday, IOL reported, while in Cape Town, a truck blocked a main highway.

In Gauteng, traffic was also disrupted by truck drivers.


'Faceless' forces blamed for truck mayhem on SA roads

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union spokesperson Zanele Sabela told Fin24 that the Congress of South African Trade Unions aligned union was not involved in the strike.

"We are not part of the strike. It is called by faceless people. There are messages circulating on social media making threats that are leaving workers concerned because they are being targeted. We don’t how innocent workers can be expected to report for duty when they fear that they will be attacked," said Sabela.

Suspicions

Threats to foreign truck drivers have been made on social media in recent days, with industry players blaming Sipho Zungu, the leader of the All Truck Drivers Foundation, for recent remarks against foreigners, which may have emboldened attackers.

Zungu told Fin24 that he was appearing before the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday after the freight company Positive Freight Solutions accused him of inciting violence against foreign truck drivers.

However, Zungu told Fin24 that his remarks had nothing to do with the recent violence and that he did not organise any strike for the week.

"It (the strike) is not something I would speak about. It's not organised by us. We are in court today, so we can't possibly be striking. All we have done is express the frustrations of the poor to employers and government," said Zungu.

Zungu said he would not accept the charge of inciting xenophobia with remarks he has made. "Our only crime is that we voiced out the truth about people being hungry and not having work to feed themselves. As for the violence that has occurred, we cannot speak to it because that is not even what we are calling for," Zungu said.

'SA trucks will be stopped'

Meanwhile, the International Cross Border Traders Association, which represents truck drivers, has threatened to stop all South African trucks in neighbouring countries if government doesn’t take action against the attacks on foreign national truck drivers.

President of the International Cross Border Traders Association Denis Juru told Fin24 that the association opposed the strike because it was "against foreign nationals".

"It must be stopped by government and the authorities now. No one has been arrested since this started. SAPS is doing nothing. You can’t tell me a terrorist group can do this without an arrest," said Juru. He said that he had spoken to Zungu’s ATDF, who has distanced themselves from the attacks when speaking to him.

Violence in KZN

After a violent weekend, where 20 people were arrested in KwaZulu Natal for offences including public violence and obstructing traffic, Brigadier Jay Naicker told Fin24 that police managed to restore order.

"The protests yesterday we arrested 20 people in KZN Province. KZN is quiet today but we have deployed personnel at hotspots. In Richards Bay, there were individuals arrested for public violence and obstruction of traffic," said Naicker.

Naicker said five people were arrested in the small town of Estcourt after a truck was set alight in the area on Sunday.

In a joint statement, Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Police Bheki Cele, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said they convened an urgent meeting to get an update on the progress in addressing the violence and planning a way forward.

In the statement, the ministers called the ongoing violence "economic sabotage…spearheaded by criminal elements responsible for the blockages, burning of trucks and assets, as well as the intimidation and killing of truck drivers in the sector".

satawu  |  south africa  |  xenophobia  |  strike
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