We got a convoy: Trucks return to N3, but police and army miss the memo

17 July 2021 - 10:15
A convoy of trucks carrying copper makes its way along the N3 towards Durban shortly after dawn on July 17 2021.
A convoy of trucks carrying copper makes its way along the N3 towards Durban shortly after dawn on July 17 2021.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

The reopened N3 thundered again early on Saturday as hundreds of trucks left Johannesburg loaded with food and other essential goods to replenish KwaZulu-Natal's looted stores.

But while an army of private security vehicles shepherded the convoys east, police and the military were virtually absent.

TimesLIVE saw four police cars at the Heidelberg weighbridge but no other state security forces between Johannesburg and Heidelberg, or between Heidelberg and Harrismith.

This was despite the N3 being the scene of carnage eight days earlier when rampaging protesters torched 35 trucks.

The protests erupted days after the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma and spread rapidly throughout Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

By 3.30am on Saturday, scores of trucks were forming convoys at truck stops around Johannesburg, waiting for the Covid-19 alert level 4 curfew to lift.

A truck carrying electrical equipment, followed by a security escort, leaves a warehouse in Midrand en route to Durban at 4am on July 17 2021.
A truck carrying electrical equipment, followed by a security escort, leaves a warehouse in Midrand en route to Durban at 4am on July 17 2021.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Almost in unison at 4am, trucks could be seen pouring out of the city along the N1 and R21 and onto the N3.

Hestony Transport MD Etuan van der Westhuizen said it was all systems go to get as many vehicles as possible to Durban.

“We have been hit hard. We lost seven trucks in the violence. It cost us R24m,” he said.

A truck makes its way along the N3 towards Durban early on July 17 2021.
A truck makes its way along the N3 towards Durban early on July 17 2021.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

“The losses don’t include the loads, which run into millions of rand. This violence has hurt us and suppliers hard.”

Van der Westhuizen said they were transporting food and other essential supplies which were needed by retailers and wholesalers. “We are moving as quickly as possible.”

TimesLIVE


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