South Africa

N3 truck burnings spark fears of unrest

The burning of six trucks on the N3 has led to fears of widespread unrest as trucking associations have warned that their members are frustrated with government inaction and may take matters into their own hands.

Van Reenen’s pass was closed on Sunday morning due to the burning of the six trucks. It has since been reopened.

KwaZulu-Natal secretary of the All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa Gugu Sokhela told eNCA that he could not confirm if any of the forum’s members were involved. He added that he would not be surprised if some were. 

Sokhela said the forum’s members have expressed growing anger and frustration with the government’s lack of action in addressing the concerns of truck drivers. 

The forum has asked for a ban on hiring foreign truck drivers, a practice Sokhela claims is illegal as it is not listed on the Critical Skills List by the Department of Home Affairs. 

Simply put, the government is not enforcing its own rules and regulations. 

The forum will discipline its members if any were involved, but Sokhela said they understand the frustration of their members and why they would engage in the burning of trucks. 

President of the Truckers Association of South Africa Mary Phadi told Newzroom Afrika that incidents of this nature tend to precede significant protest action or worse, as they did in 2021 with the July Riots. 

Phadi said some drivers are unwilling to drive through certain areas and drive at night as further attacks are expected. 

News24 reported on Monday morning that a further five trucks were burned in Mpumalanga. 

Phadi echoed Sokhela in calling for greater urgency from the government in dealing with the issue of foreign truck drivers. 

“I do not see why we are protecting something illegal as per the Department of Home Affairs,” Phadi said in reference to hiring foreign truck drivers. 

The issue could easily be solved if the government would enforce its stated regulations. The association is engaging with the government to ensure further disruptions to freight transport do not occur. 

She said the frustration of truck drivers is understandable given the treatment their demands received from the government. 

The unrest may spread to local communities and other key logistical hubs. Phadi is unsure who is behind the attacks but said it would not be surprising if it were local truck drivers. 

South Africa Special Risk Association (Sasria) has warned that South Africa risks a repeat of the July 2021 riots if youth unemployment and load-shedding are not addressed. 

The state-owned company’s CEO, Mpumi Tyikwe, told BusinessDay that “the biggest worry is youth unemployment…the youth are sitting and idling”.

Gauteng co-operative and governance and traditional affairs MEC Mzi Khumalo echoed comments from Tyikwe, saying a failure to respond to the unemployment crisis could “lead to a revolution in this country”.

“All hands are needed on deck to address the ill. If we don’t do that, those young people’s anger can be ignited,” he said.


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