As govt seeks solutions to truck violence, families of victims in mourning

According to the Labour Ministry, 84 attacks have been recorded since April this year prompting hurried efforts between various departments to coordinate a response plan.

One of two trucks that were on fire on the N12 in Daveyton, Benoni on 25 November 2020. Picture: Via @EWNTraffic/Twitter

DURBAN - While the government talks tough against the violence in the trucking industry, families who have lost loved ones in the latest attacks have been left reeling.

According to the Labour Ministry, 84 attacks have been recorded since April this year, prompting hurried efforts between various departments to coordinate a response plan.

READ: Ramaphosa establishes team of ministers to look into freight industry violence

According to the Road Freight Association, over 30 vehicles have been targeted, while the Labour Department has put the number at 13.

The violence is believed to be fuelled in part by tensions between foreign drivers and South Africans who are demanding jobs for locals only.

One man lost his life while several others were seriously wounded or threatened in separate incidents.

'HE DIDN’T DESERVE TO DIE LIKE THAT'

Busani Dlamini left his Ixopo home in KwaZulu-Natal last Sunday headed to work.

The following day, he was shot in Alberton in eastern Johannesburg with the truck that he’d driven to Polokwane and back burning in a field not far from his lifeless body.

Dlamini (45), a married father of three whose family describes him as peaceful, had promised to spend more time with them this festive season, something he’d struggled to juggle because of work commitments.

His brother, Leornard, told Eyewitness News he did not deserve to die the way he did.

“He was a breadwinner; he was like a father to us. We were the only remaining members of our family; our families have passed on.”

Dlamini’s close friend and colleague, who spoke anonymously, said truck drivers were working in constant fear.

“I am very scared, even now, I don’t know what to say. I can’t even sleep. Everyone is scared to drive on the roads.”

Busani Dlamini. Picture: Supplied

EXCLUSION OF FOREIGN DRIVERS

Meanwhile, foreign truck drivers have complained that they are being excluded from talks looking into violence in their industry.

While the police ministry is confident it has a handle on the situation, players in the trucking industry are not convinced given the resurgence and severity of attacks especially in the last month.

Groups such as the SADC Crossdrivers Association said their fears and concerns were not being taken seriously and this would affect how their members treated South Africans in neighbouring countries.

As secretary-general Tatenda Mehlomakhulu explained, they could even be denied access.

“We don’t want to attack our South African brothers, but what we are going to do is stop them from coming over the African borders. If they don’t want to live with us in their country, then they don’t need to be with us in our country.”

READ: Nxesi warns that truck attacks in SA could see retaliation in rest of Africa

Meanwhile, the National Interfaith Council of South Africa has condemned the attacks.

“As members of the clergy we are saying no to the killing of people either from other countries or South Africa. We are saying no to killing. We respect the right to life as protected by the Constitution,” said the council’s advocate Abigail Ngobeni.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, meanwhile, said at least 25 people had been arrested in the last few weeks related to attacks on trucks.

Government has set up a ministerial committee to look into issues including legislation relating to migration and employment in the hopes of resolving the impasse.

POPCRU APPEALS FOR HELP

At the same time, The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said its members needed assistance from The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to help better respond to attacks on truck drivers.

Popcru's Richard Mamabolo, said, “We are requesting an intervention in the short-term for police to work closely with truck drivers. However, it’s not a long-term solution because we need to have these truck drivers resolve their challenges themselves. However, we think it will assist in the short-term in ensuring that they quell the violence that has been happening.”

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