‘Without trucks, South Africa stops’

The Road Freight Association CEO’s open letter to President Ramaphosa calls for an end to transporter attacks.
Act now – or we will have no country left, says the author. Image: EPA-EFE/STR
The following open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa was penned by Road Freight Association CEO Gavin Kelly on 16 June 2022.

Mr President

The whole logistics supply chain is under attack. Again. All major routes are being targeted.

Road freight companies (transporters) find themselves being targeted, attacked and being prevented from plying their business by forces under the pretext of foreign nationals “taking jobs away from citizens”.

Read: Protesting truckers blockade parts of key routes

This results in damaged and totally destroyed lives, companies, employment opportunities, economic activity, goods, vehicles, facilities, roads and foreign investment to move goods through South Africa into Africa.

The action discriminates against those companies who comply with all the legislated requirements, or even come from foreign countries – whilst our calls for action against those companies who continue to break the laws, employ foreigners without the correct authorisations and refuse to register or submit to the inspections done by the Department of Employment and Labour [are unheeded and they] continue to operate and create the position we, as a country, find ourselves in.

The N3 has been blocked for more than 24 hours. There are over 350 trucks blocked on either direction of the N3 (this number continually growing by the hour). Our drivers (and other staff on the trucks) are exposed to severe cold, possible violent looting or other aggravated assault and do not have the means to survive for days stranded in a truck in the middle of nowhere.

The N3 route links one of the busiest ports in Africa to many countries that rely on a well functioning, safe and efficient corridor. Much cargo travels and traverses this route.

Other vital routes – from Mpumalanga across the country to the Northern Cape – the N17, N11, N2, R59, R74 – the list goes on – have experienced similar events and delays. This cannot continue.

The economic impact – initially felt and carried/absorbed by all the transporters stuck on the various routes – is not only enormous (we have already lost around R25 million in truck operating costs), but will cripple many of our smaller operators (88% of our members are SMMEs), will have knock-on effects into all other industry sectors (from manufacturing to retail), will result in penalties for late delivery, damaged goods, contract breach and even loss of business and thereby unemployment.


Ships will sail past to other ports – they will not wait for us to “get our act together”.

We will lose trade and business to and through South Africa. Our ports will become ghost towns – and the surrounding businesses relating to those activities of trade and support will close. More unemployment [will ensue].

When you add up all the damage and negative costs into the economy, we are well around R300 million already.

Mr President – what is this really about? Other than the economic sabotage and total destruction of South Africa, there is obvious intent to prove that the control of the country (and its economy) now rests with gangs?

The leadership of the ATDF-SA [All Truck Drivers Foundation South Africa], specifically the president of the organisation, has openly commented on social media that they do not care about the effects of their actions and that they will continue until there is change. Why have the various departments tasked with solving this issue (almost five years ago now) NOT dealt with the core reasons and addressed these?

You and your ministers promised to defend the country. To protect its people and to ensure a better life for all. You have broken that trust.

Act now – or we will have no country left.

No home.

No place to educate and grow our children.

Mr President – instruct the Ministers of Police, Transport and Defence & Military Veterans to perform their duties – to restore order and to listen to the proposals made by the representative, compliant transporters within the sector. The non-compliant transporters and the groupings that “represent” them must be dealt with.

The time is now.

End the sabotage of the country and its economy by the ATDF-SA and their allies. Clear the routes. Arrest those drivers complicit [in] this activity.

Deal with the organisers of this sabotage, criminal activity and organised crime.

Get the logistics corridors open.

Ensure the rule of law and the right to free movement and the operation of economic activity.

If you do not do this now, South Africa will close down. It will stop. Trade and business will go elsewhere.

We need to protect every Citizen’s Constitutional right to safety, security and the ability to live and work without hinderance (subject to them respecting and abiding by the very same Constitution and the various legislative requirements of the country).

On behalf of all our citizens, the Road Freight Association asks you to instruct your Cabinet to act now. Act decisively.

Mr President – we look towards your leadership.



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“Mr President – we look towards your leadership”.

Good luck with that one, Gavin. You may as well look under the mattress at Phala Phala.

And as for asking the minister of Transport for help …. it’s Fikile Mbalula. Good luck with that one too.

I am afraid we are in dire straits in the country. We are in serious trouble. No leadership and politicos solely intent on enriching themselves and their cronies while the country goes down the tubes.

The main gang leaders of this country merrily celebrate in parliament while their country goes to ruin.
The armed wing of this group called the SAP will not act against their fellow members in plain clothes but only “monitor” from a distance as usual.
The only functional part of the “army” is in Mozambique on a holiday there in the north somewhere so they are effectively out of any equation.
If big business do not act NOW in support of these trucking companies then we are doomed in SA.
It will be DRC version 2.

One man’s poison is another man’s meat. Die een se dood is die ander se brood. Sophisticated and efficient transport infrastructure enables foreign producers to compete locally. Transport infrastructure puts pressure on the profit margins of local farmers and manufacturers that have to compete with imported products.

The destruction of trucks, trains, harbors, roads, and railways stops this competitive process that is to the advantage of the consumer. In short, local producers stand to gain from higher market prices as their profit margins open up due to the lack of imported goods. That is if they are able to find a way to get their inputs like fuel, fertilizer, and equipment to their factories and farms.

The consumer pays for the lack of infrastructure. That is why the individuals who impede the free and voluntary exchange of labour and goods are guilty of sabotage and treason. The Chinese would put them before the firing squad. That explains the difference between the booming Chinese economy and our stagnant economy.

The South African democratic process is consuming its children. Those who wrote the constitution had sophisticated people in mind. Now, they realize that they are dealing with criminals, hooligans, and saboteurs who hide behind their constitutional rights while they commit crimes. The criminal justice system allows this process through indifference, incompetence, and negligence.

Co incidence or intended that this is taking place whilst talks of rehabilitating our national rail system controlled by the State (SOE) And paid for by the taxpayer are being proposed? Just saying ……

N3 needs permanent policing and quick response.

We always see these rapid reaction forces showing how they rappel from a helicopter and it looks great.
Pity they only do shows ne !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is this a group of truck drivers that use their employers’ vehicles obviously without permission to block the routes? How many? If the police arrest the drivers I am sure the non-striking drivers stuck behind them would oblige and move the trucks : those drivers are losing money!

End of comments.



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