Attacks on trucks are an attack on the economy

Stakeholders warn of extreme economic consequences as the spate of attacks on freight trucks continues.
The Road Freight Association estimates that over the past year, close to 1 400 trucks across the country have either been burnt, damaged or destroyed. Picture: Moneyweb

At least 17 trucks were torched over the weekend in the recent wave of attacks on freight vehicles in KwaZulu-Natal. Worse so, in the past three weeks, over 60 trucks have been set alight on the country’s roads.

This information was revealed following an inter-ministerial committee meeting in Durban consisting of senior government officials, such as Minister of Police Bheki Cele and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.

The committee was established specifically to respond to the attacks, which started in March 2018 over the alleged hiring of foreign nationals by trucking companies.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) estimates that over the past year, close to 1 400 trucks across the country have either been burnt, damaged or destroyed and it says that 213 people have lost their lives due to the hostilities.

“This is not only truck drivers, it is assistant drivers, packers, people involved in depots who have also been attacked. Innocent people caught up in this are being harmed,” said Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the RFA.

Kelly said the trucking industry was frustrated with the loss of life and property that has, so far, cost the economy between R1.2 billion and R1.3 billion.

The road transport sector is a key contributor to the country’s economy and accounts for over 80% of freight share compared to other modes of transport such as shipping and rail.

“There’s no way that we can do without trucks and this is a really harsh situation that is threatening our economy,” said Mike Schüssler, chief economist at

Schüssler explained that stable conditions within the freight industry were just as crucial as a consistent supply of electricity where the only difference in the truck sector is that the knock-on effects of disruption are not as immediate.

“Transport will not increase the debt of government but ultimately it will impact on inflation, growth, consumer and business confidence and I think people in that industry feel under threat,” said Schüssler.

The N3 highway linking Johannesburg and Durban has been one of the main areas where these attacks have happened and has become a site of protest for unhappy truck drivers. This is also one of the most critical economic roads in the country.

“The main artery of Gauteng is the N3 it is the heart of South Africa’s economy and if that main artery is blocked, it will be like a heart attack,” said Schüssler.

The biggest port in sub-Saharan Africa is Durban, according to statistics from Transnet National Ports Authority Cargo. The port processed 43.2 million metric tons of cargo in 2018.

“It is everything from cars, electronics, food, medicine and toiletries, everything that you can see in a shop. This includes raw materials, it goes in and out,” said Schüssler, adding that many of the services in the mining and manufacturing sectors use trucks too.  

Colin Brown, chief financial officer of logistics company Supergroup, said the destruction of trucks was a “very serious” issue that they have been exposed to on numerous occasions, particularly in the Witbank and Middelburg area where the group’s fleet is often exposed to service delivery protests.

“We now try to avoid trouble routes and keep our ear to the ground,” said Brown.  

He said that drivers send each other tip-offs about hot spot areas and make use of social media and news reports to try and steer clear of any bad situations.

Brown said about 10 trucks belonging to Supergroup were severely damaged or torched after being caught in service delivery protests.

The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala told media that the torching of trucks would not be tolerated.

He said the inter-ministerial committee agreed to the formation of a rapid response team that will ensure sufficient policing in all areas.

“All cases where trucks have been damaged or burnt and individually attacked those cases should be followed and investigated,” said Zikalala.

Among other solutions, the department of employment and labour working together with the premier’s office will tackle issues of employment and illegal employment of foreign nationals who do not possess work permits.



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Well someone has been teaching people for the past 100 years that you have to burn things to get your way? Children see their parents do this daily to get service delivery. Will it take another 100 years to stop? It will be far to late. No plan. They will investigate. What about locking people up and throwing the key away?

I don’t think the ANC government realize the seriousness of this. Will be treating this with joking attitudes blaming apartheid probably.

Right you are. When you need an excuse you can always, always count on Apartheid. They have done a good job of making it what it is today, and the lessons they learnt and applied in their own racist policies are not lost on us…..

Exactly and the someone who actively fostered this culture of violence and entitlement against the “establishment” is the ANC and friends like EFF&BLF and unions. Now the ugly struggle chickens are coming back to roost and the ANC do nothing exactly like when the students burned their libraries at the universities and the people burn the schools and clinics.

A certain Winnie Mandela started the necklacing and burning craze.

Just as Peter Makaba started the “Kill the Farmer” and “One bullet one settler” thing.

Evil people.

214 People killed, and 1 400 trucks destroyed! what the hell, in any other non-african country the army would have been called in, draconian problems call for draconian times…

“The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sipho Zikalala told media that the torching of trucks would not be tolerated.”

Well, Premier you have tolerated it for the past year, so why the change in heart now??

They are going to need security for the trucks like ships get when the go past Somalia.

Guards on trucks … Like the Mad Max movies

they will literally have to drive in convoys. So much for a democratic economy.

N3 is becoming a problem for all road users. What happened to Transnet. Cut the cadre deployment and fix it.

Attacks on farmers is also an attack on the economy.

The Zuma cabal needs to be finally put down, before they put us down.

Soon goods will have to be transported in armed (or armoured?) convoys. The insurance & security cost will be passed on to consumers.

Then the same poor communities will soon struggle to understand why the cheapest loaf of Albany/Blue Ribbon/Sasko now starts FROM R25….

Problem is, the crime will shift from the transport of goods to the store itself to be looted. The poorer communities always complain their is no representative shops close by in rural areas…well, sort your community’s criminality out first! And vote differently next time!

Kids & young adults longing for a GOOD hiding with a cane, they never experienced in their lives??

My dear Mike – In a subsistence farming environment trucks are not required.

This is where SA is heading spearheaded by the ANC’s unwillingness to take any action whatsoever against their “Votas”

The thug culture and animal spirits unleashed by the likes of Zuma, BLF and EFF will take decades to unwind with massive losses to the economy. This is what happens when thugs take political power and are allowed to go unchecked. I mean threatening to slaughter a race group is not even considered hate speech in this madhouse country.

The ANC created Zuma, Malema, Nxitana and a string of other evil people.
They support and protect them.

Julius and Andries were sent out to go where the ANC did not dare to go. They were told to create trouble, they would be protected by the ANC. Farm murders, torching trucks, service delivery etc were all created by the ANC. WMC, RET are all their doing. All for votes but there will be no delivery, that is the ANC way.

They have started something they cannot control. As they say there will be blood.

Call in the Singapore Justice system-24 cuts with a heavy cane if convicted and this nonsense will stop( but first call the Italian police to catch the criminals!!)

A culture of law and order is too ‘oppressive’ for this nation.

I live in KZN and you have to check the roads before you travel at all. I was held up in chaos for three hours. The lives lost, petrol wasted, people waiting for you on the other end, no end to the problems. This must be stopped immediately. Call in the army to patrol the hot spots and use live ammunition. This nonsence must be stopped now. What will insurance companies do to recover the losses plus all food burnt and stolen. This is madness. No where in the world would this madness be tolerated.

End of comments.




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