South Africa

Truck burnings spread

Unidentified assailants attacked freight trucks on South Africa’s roads in a fourth province as lawmakers urged the police to act to stop the violence.

A vehicle was set ablaze in the commercial hub of Gauteng province, the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corp. reported on Wednesday. Four trucks are on fire on the N2 highway in the neighbouring Mpumalanga province, Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA reported.

Wednesday’s incident added to attacks on at least 15 other trucks in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo since the weekend, according to a statement by a committee of lawmakers.

They coincide with the second anniversary of the worst rioting in South Africa since the end of apartheid when violence left at least 350 people dead and cost the economy an estimated R50 billion.

“We are calling on whoever is behind this act of mayhem to stop it, and we are appealing on the police to act with speed in curbing it and apprehending its perpetrators,” Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure Chairman Kenneth Mmoiemang said in the statement.

The committee backed a plan by President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish a team to investigate “this economic sabotage,” he said.

Police Minister Bheki Cele is scheduled to address the media on Wednesday about a plan to address the attacks.

Trucks ferry about 80% of all the goods moved in and around South Africa because the state-owned railway lacks the capacity to handle the freight. Attacks on the industry stem from competition over routes and disputes over the hiring of foreign drivers.

The attacks will cost the economy billions of rands “as business confidence from foreign investors plummets, and those who use South Africa as a transit hub, turn away from us and move to other countries that are safer and more efficient,” the Road Freight Association said in a statement.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile said the government knows who is behind the attacks and is preparing to deal with the violence.

“Government is on top of things,” he said in an interview with the Johannesburg-based Sowetan newspaper. “We met with the security cluster, and they have a plan.”


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