The Road Freight Association (RFA) has expressed its dismay at government failing to act against attacks on truckers that started flaring up again earlier in November.
Attacks on trucks first started becoming prevalent in March 2018, but, most recently, petrol bombs were thrown at five trucks travelling between Parys and Sasolburg on November 21.
This followed a similar incident near Heidelburg, on November 19, during which nine trucks were set alight.
The RFA says the road freight companies are being attacked, in often apparently well-coordinated and syndicated fashion, under the pretext of foreign nationals “taking [trucking] jobs away from citizens”.
The association says the resultant damage to lives, companies, employment opportunities, economic activity, goods, vehicles, facilities, roads and foreign investment associated with moving goods through South Africa into Africa, as a result of these attacks, directly jeopardises government's economic recovery efforts.
“We are concerned that the lack of action from government creates the impression that it is complacent regarding this type of protest action – given the fact that the Minister of Police has done nothing of substantive value to prevent and stop this type of activity,” notes RFA CE Gavin Kelly.
“This matter has been with us for over three years now and nothing – other than the shifting of blame and endless talks – has transpired. No resolution has been forthcoming,” he adds.
RFA has, together with the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI) – which includes unions – met on numerous occasions with relevant Ministers, been involved in the Ministerial Task Team created to address this, forwarded proposals and actions to address the matter and attempted to resolve all labour-related matters through the structures created by the NBCRFLI.
"However, there are roles required by the various government agencies that have not been implemented effectively nor urgently enough to address this very serious matter, states Kelly.
“The increase in lawlessness, common criminality, looting, arson, pillaging, intimidation, blackmail and numerous other clever schemes has been systematically orchestrated against individuals, businesses, organised labour, the economy and the very fabric of the freedom to economic activity. In instances where companies or individuals illegally employ foreign nationals, this must be addressed within the ambit of the South African law . . . [but] the country cannot allow this state of lawlessness to continue,” Kelly laments.
Kelly believes the issue will likely escalate into widespread confrontation as frustrated, angry and financially stressed citizens take the necessary steps to protect their employees, assets, property and the sustainability of their businesses, into their own hands.
In Kelly’s appeal to President Cyril Ramaphosa, he asks for urgent intervention and for him to rally all stakeholders to partner in finding a solution to this crisis.