News / South Africa

Siyanda Ndlovu
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
27 Oct 2021
4:15 pm

Rogue employers exploit vulnerable foreign truck drivers, says Nxesi

Siyanda Ndlovu

Protests erupted in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape as drivers complained about the employment of foreign nationals as truckers.

Truck drivers protesting on the N3 near Harrismith on 26 October 2021. Picture: Facebook/SA Trucker

While protests and and blockading of several national routes by truck drivers has ended after agreements between stakeholders, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on Wednesday conceded that there were discrepancies within the trucking industry.

Nxesi, alongside Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, addressed a briefing on Wednesday following protests in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, as drivers complained about the employment of foreign nationals as truckers.

“We have noted that there are employers within this sector who continue to employ undocumented foreign nationals and the existence of rogue employers who seek to exploit vulnerable foreign workers,” said Nxesi.

“We urge those employers to refrain from these practices as we view this as economic sabotage and their undermining of our labour migration laws.”

He said his department was hard at work enforcing compliance and carrying out regular inspections.

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He said that these inspections had resulted in arrests, fines and other penalties where non compliance was detected.

“A decision was taken that coordination should be located at provincial level by MECs of transport and security and in we know that KZN, EC, and MP these have been active in undertaking inspections.”

There has been a massive truck traffic jam on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State, with trucks backed up between Howick and Pietermaritzburg in the KZN Midlands.

Mbalula said they had met with the protesting truck drivers and small truck operators who had blockaded the N9 and the N10 highways outside Middelburg in the Eastern Cape.  

“From the engagements, the issue of employment of foreign nationals featured strongly in their demands,” said Mbalula.

“We have equally taken note of the allegation that the employers take advantage of the lack of clarity in our regulations insofar as this relates to foreign nationals making use of professional driving permits issued in their respective countries to drive in South Africa.

Mbalula said the situation with the drivers had since been brought to calm.

“We have invited their leaders to sit around the table in order for them to have a better appreciation of the measures we are putting in place in addressing their demands,” concluded Mbalula.