Dozens of trucks have been attacked or torched on SA's roads in the past eight months, with 13 incidents in the past month alone.
The police, employment and labour, home affairs, and transport departments revealed the figures in a joint statement which came in the wake of recent protests against, largely, the employment of foreign nationals in the trucking sector.
The departments said they met this week and had adopted a “comprehensive response to this criminal activity”, including:
According to the departments, the “labour issues” were one of the leading causes of the unrest and the targeting of the trucking sector.
This, they said, “has to do with disturbing emerging tendencies by some employers displacing South African truck drivers with foreign nationals and subsequent sporadic actions of torching of trucks by those affected in an attempt to get government to take action against foreign truck drivers”.
There is also a “new set of dynamics” emerging, linked to ownership of trucks, tenders and contracts and competition between companies for lucrative routes. However, employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi said the government would not hesitate to take action against criminal elements.
“These attacks are criminal acts, and the government has zero tolerance towards this economic sabotage. It will not tolerate acts which disrupt business and in turn destroy livelihoods. The transport industry is a catalyst to economic growth and job creation and truck drivers are among workers whose work takes them across borders.
“Attacks on trucks that deliver goods that are the lifeblood of SA’s and the region’s economies must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. Government is committed to the transformation and stabilisation of the road freight and logistics industry — a critical sector for growing the economy,” said Nxesi.
He also warned that those who are “using foreign nationals as cheap labour” must stop.
“It has no place in our country and region. We also strongly condemn the destruction of property and our law-enforcement agencies will deal harshly with anyone who has been found to be involved in criminal acts,” he said.