'Mindless and bloody lawlessness' - Cyril Ramaphosa on truck attacks
President Cyril Ramaphosa has spoken out against the carnage on SA's roads as truck drivers and companies have come under attack amid a spate of vehicle hijackings and protests by those calling for the removal of foreign truck drivers.
“As South Africans, we cannot possibly tolerate the mindless and bloody lawlessness with which the road freight industry is being targeted. We cannot tolerate this loss of life and destruction of property," Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
He said he was deeply concerned about the effect of the violence on owners and employees of the affected trucking companies, as well as the economic disruption caused by these acts while the country is focused on rebuilding the economy.
Ramaphosa directed the ministers of employment and labour, transport, home affairs and police to furnish him with a report about the matter.
Last year, Ramaphosa had tasked the same ministers to look into the matter and find a solution.
On Monday Road Freight Association (RFA) CEO Gavin Kelly penned an open letter to Ramaphosa, calling for his intervention in a matter which he claimed had not been resolved for more than three years.
“This matter has been with us for more than three years now and nothing, other than the shifting of blame and endless talks, has transpired. No resolution has been forthcoming.”
The president offered his condolences to the families and colleagues of drivers who lost their lives through the intimidation and violence perpetrated by criminals.
On Monday night a 45-year-old truck driver from KwaZulu-Natal was shot and killed and another seriously injured in Gauteng.
Ramaphosa lauded Gauteng police, who in the the past 24 hours had made arrests related to the hijacking of a truck.
On Tuesday members of the West Rand K9 unit were patrolling the area, on the lookout for a vehicle believed to have been involved in a courier truck hijacking.
Police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele said while the K9 unit members were patrolling they identified the VW Polo Classic vehicle on Main Reef Road heading towards Johannesburg with three occupants.
"A chase ensued and the suspects started shooting at the police. The police returned fire and managed to intercept the vehicle. The vehicle was searched and stolen property, believed to have been stolen from the hijacked truck, was recovered in the vehicle. The three suspects - aged 34, 39 and 45 - were arrested."
Makhubele said during the arrest police also seized two unlicensed firearms believed to have been used in the truck hijacking.
"The firearms will be subjected to ballistic testing to determine whether might be linked to other crimes.
"The suspects are facing charges of truck hijacking and possession of unlicensed firearms and are expected to appear in the Roodepoort magistrate's court soon," he said.
On Wednesday morning, the N12 highway between Kingsway and Holfontein was closed to traffic as police attended to a crime scene in which two trucks were set alight. It is understood the trucks had been torched before 6am near the Etwatwa off-ramp.
PODCAST | Trucking protests: justified or economic sabotage?
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