Unidentified assailants set fire to five trucks on a key trade corridor in South Africa, the second such attack in as many days.
The attackers torched vehicles Monday on the N4 highway that links the commercial hub of Gauteng province to the port of Maputo in neighbouring Mozambique, police spokesman Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told Johannesburg-based broadcaster Newzroom Afrika. The route is a key corridor for coal and chrome exports from South Africa.
On Sunday, assailants set ablaze trucks on the N3 highway that links Gauteng to the port of Durban, Africa’s biggest container harbour.
Truckers regularly block major arterial roads in South Africa in protest at the hiring of foreigners. The protests threaten trade and employment because 80% of all goods moved in and around South Africa are ferried by road, according to the Road Freight Association.
The ongoing attacks have led some companies to move their cargo through the ports of neighbouring countries instead of South Africa.
The latest incidents come two years after South Africa was rocked by seven days of violence in the worst instance of civil unrest since the advent of multiracial democracy in 1994.
The N3 was shut down, and shops were looted during the violence that led to the deaths of more than 350 people and cost the economy an estimated R50 billion rand. The orchestrators of the unrest have yet to be prosecuted.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday expressed concern about the attacks that have “a negative impact on our economy,” he told reporters after a meeting of the governing African National Congress’s top leaders.
“It’s almost like economic sabotage because burning six trucks on the main artery of our country in terms of the economy is concerning,” he said.
The N3 highway was closed for most of Sunday as mop-up operations got underway. The police are yet to make any arrests following the attacks.
“The targeted precision of the attack is worrying,” the Road Freight Association said. “This was well planned and efficiently implemented. At this point, no group has acknowledged that they are responsible.”