Boss shocked to see driver as suspect; attacked truckers believed to all be South African
Shongwe, who was allegedly caught on dashcam video, among five in court for truck torchings
A director of a coal transportation company says they were shocked to learn that one of their employees was allegedly behind the arson attack on a truck belonging to their subcontractor.
SG Coal confirmed that their driver, Nelson Shongwe, who was allegedly caught on dashcam video hijacking a truck and later setting it alight, was among the five men who appeared in the Ermelo magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga on Monday.
Shongwe appeared alongside Sibusiso Mthethwa, Fundile Mpondo, Mafika Sibane and Nkosingiphile Gumede — who have all been linked to the recent spate of truck torchings. Their case was postponed to next week.
The five are accused of conspiracy to commit malicious damage to property, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder.
Speaking to Sowetan, SG Coal director Peter Mountford said Shongwe was identified and apprehended by Anti-Crime Security Unit, a private company contracted by the subcontractor.
Mountford said Shongwe was off duty at the time of the attack.
“We are shocked. We don’t employ any foreign nationals ...” .
The subcontractor, who asked not to be named, told Sowetan his driver was accosted and still traumatised after the incident.
He said the driver was on his way to drop off coal in Richard’s Bay when he suddenly saw two burning trucks on the N2 between Piet Retief and Ermelo, about 45km from his work.
The driver assumed that an accident had taken place and proceeded to drive slowly. The dashcam from the truck’s cabin shows the driver stopping his vehicle and then talking to a person who had stopped him through the window.
“The man pointed what looked like a firearm at the driver and told him to get out or he will suffer the consequences. The driver opened the door and got out while the attacker, who was wearing a hoodie, took the wheel and then torched the cabin using a flammable [liquid],” said the subcontractor.
“He (the driver) ran away because he was scared. He also lost his wallet, driver's licence, banking cards, and professional driver's permit.”
He added the driver had been working for him for more than a year. The subcontractor said the incident had had a huge impact on his business, resulting in a loss of income.
His truck and trailer were worth R3.2m.
“I think the big thing is that these guys are saying they don’t want foreign drivers because foreign drivers are taking their jobs but, if I am not mistaken, all the trucks that were burnt not one of the drivers are foreign,” the businessman said.
So far, 21 trucks have been torched in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng in what has been described as co-ordinated attacks.
Last Wednesday, police minister Bheki Cele announced that 12 people of interest had been identified through investigation and intelligence gathering with most of them located in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Cele said evidence pointed to “organised co-ordinated and sophisticated operations that seek to undermine and sabotage the state”.
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