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Eight truckers arrested after protest closed the N3 toll route

27 October 2021 - 12:36
Eight people were arrested during the truck strike on Tuesday. File photo.
Eight people were arrested during the truck strike on Tuesday. File photo.

Free State police arrested eight people after negotiations to end a truck blockade on the N3 toll route were unsuccessful on Tuesday. 

The truck protest began on Sunday in Middelburg, Eastern Cape, against the employment of foreign nationals in the sector. After talks on Monday with transport minister Fikile Mbalula and labour minister Thulas Nxesi, the protesters began to disperse.

According to police, a truckers' protest then started at about 11.30pm that night as trucks blocked the N3 outside Intabazwe near Harrismith. The drivers demanded to meet  Mbalula to address their concerns about foreign truck drivers.

“On Tuesday police were mobilised to attend to the situation. Negotiations were conducted between the police and truck drivers, who were warned to remove the trucks to allow other motorists to use the road.

“The negotiations were unsuccessful and drivers were ordered to remove the trucks that were blocking the road near Swinburne within 30 minutes. The truck drivers failed to comply and walked away with keys, leaving the trucks on the road,” police said.

Eight drivers were arrested and a towing service removed the trucks that were blocking the road.

The suspects will be charged and are expected to appear before the local magistrate’s court soon on charges under the National Road Traffic Act and public violence.

Meanwhile, Brighton Taderera, a manganese truck driver, was forced off the road on the N10 near Middelburg at gunpoint on Tuesday. According to sister paper HeraldLIVE, Taderera said he was forced off the road by a group of assailants, resulting in him hitting a tree.

“While the foreign national said he did not know the cause of the incident, his company suspects it was connected to the blockade.”

HeraldLIVE reports that the African Truck Drivers forum has distanced itself from the incident and is calling for an investigation. 

The Road Freight Association (RFA) on Tuesday called on the ministers of police and transport to use their teams to ensure public roads remain open and free for use for all citizens, including the vehicles operated by freight and logistics companies.

RFA CEO Gavin Kelly said: “The continual attack on the logistics supply chain, and the wilful disregard by sectors who continue to drive agendas outside the collective bargaining structure, or to further their grievances by attacking the law-abiding citizenry, must be brought to a stop — immediately.”

Mbalula is expected to address the situation at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.