‘Economic terrorism’: Attacks on foreign truck drivers intensify in South Africa
In South Africa, in recent weeks, dozens of trucks have been set on fire with Molotov cocktails, cargoes looted, drivers injured, killed, in a fresh wave of particularly brutal attacks. The road transport industry is "under siege", according to the South African press. Most of the assaulted drivers are foreigners.
Published: December 12, 2020, 7:51 am
On the evening of November 23, South African police received a call on their emergency line. A truck was on fire on a national highway in Leondale, a south-eastern suburb of Johannesburg. When they arrived on the spot, the police discovered that the two drivers, originally from Zambia, had been injured by several bullets, bleeding profusely. One of them died before help arrived.
According to the Road Freight Association (RFA), at least 30 trucks have been subject to arson attacks in the space of four days, between November 19-22 – several more attacks have since occurred. Freight vehicles have been shot at with small arms fire and at least two truck drivers were killed in attacks between November 23-25.
In fact, in one weekend, some 26 trucks were petrol-bombed across South Africa in 48 hours, according to the Sunday Independent.
The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, condemned “anarchic, senseless and bloody” attacks, which endanger the process of reviving the economy, seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the long confinement. Many suspect xenophobic acts. The vast majority of the victims are foreign African drivers.
South Africa, the continent’s second largest economy, is a point of attraction for migrants who come from neighboring Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique or Zimbabwe in search of work. In June protestors forced trucks carrying manganese in the Northern Cape to dump their loads on the road, to protest against the recruitment of foreign drivers, Automotive Logistics reported.
In a report released last year, Human Rights Watch, citing an association of truck owners, estimated that around 200 drivers had lost their lives between March 2018 and July 2019.
In one incident in early March, protestors blocked the N3 highway at the Mooi River toll plaza, the main route between the port of Durban and the industrial heartland of the Gauteng province. The protest quickly turned violent: eight trucks were destroyed, including at least two car transporters which had been fully-loaded.
Because almost 90 percent of South African freight is moved by road, and almost half along the N3 alone, the phenomenon has the potential to seriously disrupt the economy. A spokesperson for the South African Long Distance Transporters association (Salt), spoke to Automotive Logistics on condition of anonymity.
“Mostly they are after stuff they can carry off, like TVs, canned food and even washing powder,” he said, but there have been instances of vehicles on carriers being stripped of their wheels and batteries. Salt had arranged a “Black Friday for Truckers” on July 12, but the scourge has continued unabated since then.
“This is economic terrorism against the people of South Africa,” economist Mike Schussler warned. He noted at least 120 billion rand worth of goods was transported by freight companies last year. This excluded the value of companies transporting their own goods and products.
South African truck drivers embarked on a national shutdown last month to fight against the employment of foreigners because they are paid lower wages. Schussler told South African news outlet IOL that the strike would only lead to an increase in food prices and more job losses.
“I know lots of these truck companies are getting more security, and the cost of transport in South Africa is going to increase. This will lead to hunger, and not only in South Africa but to other African countries, because 10 percent of our trucks go outside the border every week. This is a mess that creates fear. It is an attack on the economy,” Schussler added.
SA Long-Distance Truckers spokesperson Doreen van Rooyen also said the attacks would likely lead to an increase in food prices. “Somewhere along the line cost must be recovered. And in the end the public will pay for it. Food prices will increase,” Van Rooyen explained.
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), which represents 41 companies, said the attacks were threatening the entire industry.
“All our manufacturers use both the rail and the road network to move vehicles from their manufacturing plants to the coast for export markets,” said Michael Mabasa, CEO of Naamsa. He added that attacks on hauliers were an assault on the economy as well as the automotive industry.
But there seems to be no end in sight. “Drivers protesting the employment of foreign nationals in the freight industry could also erect roadblocks, especially along main roads or national highways nationwide, particularly in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, and Mpumalanga provinces, in the weeks ahead. Protesting drivers could engage in acts of violence against trucks and vehicles at these roadblocks. Xenophobic attacks against foreign national truck drivers are possible during roadblocks and protests,” garda.com reported.
Unsurprisingly, ANC Transport minister Fikile Mbalula, downplayed the attacks on foreigners. Instead, Mbalula said his department aimed at curbing “overloading, which contributes to fatalities”. He denounced lawlessness on the roads, which includes driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Black transport company bosses in the province of KwaZulu Natal have said that they would in future employ only South Africans in order to stop the xenophobic violence.
After several attacks in the trucking industry, KZN truck owners have committed to prioritise the employment of South African truck drivers, and 400 jobs are expected to be made available for locals. | @ntwaagae https://t.co/9GQPj48L23
— News24 (@News24) November 30, 2020
All rights reserved. You have permission to quote freely from the articles provided that the source (www.freewestmedia.com) is given. Photos may not be used without our consent.
Consider donating to support our work
Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.
Keep your language polite. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in, for example, Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.
If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violations of any law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.
If your comments are subject to preview by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.
We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.
LagosSome time ago, FWM reported on arms deliveries to Ukraine, which shortly afterwards were resold on the Internet. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that "weapons used in the war in Ukraine are gradually leaking into the region" and called for strengthened border security.
Windhoek"The former German colony, Namibia wants to help Germany in its energy crisis". This is how an article in the online edition of a German newspaper recently began about Namibia's new "Digital Nomad" visa. The six-month visa is ideal for long-term holidaymakers. And for professionals who have their office on their laptop and can work from anywhere.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we celebrated the 8 billionth day* on November 15. The planet's population is still increasing dramatically, albeit at a decreasing pace.
DakarThe recent events at the French embassy in Burkina Faso were yet another demonstration against France on the African continent after France was ousted from Mali. All it took was a rumour to attract the sympathy of the population and demonstrators to head to the French Embassy.
PretoriaThe South African defense company Milkor unveiled its Milkor 380 reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is expected to become a competitor to Turkey's Bayraktar and Anka drones.
KampalaThe Ugandan government has banned the activities of a local non-governmental organization that campaigns for the rights of sexual minorities. According to a senior official, the organization worked illegally in the African country.
KrugersdorpDozens of black men ambushed a film crew at an abandoned mine near Johannesburg on Friday. They raped eight models between the ages of 19 and 35. As they fled, the police shot dead two suspects and 82 other people were arrested.
More and more emerging countries are considering joining the BRICS group, which is seen as the major emerging countries' counterweight to the US-led West and the G7. Especially in times like these, this is also a clear signal to Washington.
PretoriaThere is a very diverse crowd on the German-Polish border currently trying to take advantage of the war situation. Do they really all come from Ukraine?
JaundeThe western African country of Cameroon is one of the nations with the fewest victims in the pandemic: Only 100 000 infected and 1 600 deaths were counted among its 27 million inhabitants. That means that the incidence rate is 50 times lower than in European countries.