Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday said those who burnt trucks in protests on South Africa’s roads would be arrested and charged with economic sabotage.
“We remain seriously concerned about the escalation of attacks on our roads,” he told a debate in Parliament about road safety during the festive season.
“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that those who destroy property and believe they have the right to put the lives of others at risk meet with the full might of the law,” Mbalula told a sitting of the National Assembly.
“And they will be charged with economic sabotage. Legitimate platforms are available for any aggrieved person to voice grievances with the relevant stakeholders and find an amicable solution.”
Mbalula said traffic officers would work alongside the police and other law-enforcement agencies to bring those involved in the protests to book.
His comments echoed a warning by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week on protesters demanding the removal of foreign drivers from operations that have been continuing for three years.
“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,” the president said.
Ramaphosa said he was worried about the impact of the violence on the owners and the staff of trucking companies and the overall effect on the economy, particularly as the country tries to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The president has, for the second year, asked relevant ministers to furnish him with reports on the protests.