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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

UPDATE: Case of murder opened after driver killed, more trucks torched (video)

In a statement, the Road Freight Association has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the fiery protests. 

Police are investigating a case of murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property after a man was shot and killed, another one injured, and a truck set alight in Leondale, east of Johannesburg, on Monday evening.

According to police spokesperson Kay Makhubele, police responded to a crime scene near the N3 onramp towards Heidelberg, and found a truck and trailer on fire. Next to the truck was a man who was bleeding from gunshot wound. He was rushed to a nearby hospital for urgent medical attention.

Police found a second victim in the veld with gunshot and burn wounds to the upper body. This second victim, a 45-year-old male employee of a trucking company in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, was declared dead on the scene.

In another incident on Monday evening in Alberton, also east of Johannesburg, a truck driver reported that he was driving along Black Reef Road in Roodekop and as he turned into Galiled Road en route to the trucking company, he noticed three men in balaclavas appear from a Hyundai i20 with unknown registration numbers.

WATCH: Two more trucks set alight in KZN on Tuesday

“The complainant reports that he jumped out of the truck and fled when the three men started firing shots at the truck. On his return, he found the truck on fire. The complainant escaped uninjured.”

A case of malicious damage to property has been opened for investigation.

Meanwhile in Vosloorus, a 27-year-old truck driver was travelling from Springs, Ekurhuleni, to a recycling company in Booysens, Johannesburg, when he was allegedly hijacked in Booysens.

The truck was set alight by unknown suspects near Extension 25 in Volsoorus. The driver managed to escape with no injuries.

Police are investigating a case of hijacking and malicious damage to property.

“A multi-disciplinary team has been deployed as part of the maximum resources mobilised by the province to urgently address the spike in attacks on trucks. To this end, five suspects were arrested for intimidation on Monday 23 November 2020, after a group of about 40 people arrived at a freight company in Alberton, demanding jobs. It is reported that the group broke into a frenzy when one of the company seniors advanced to hand them application forms for employment,” said Makhubele.

Their court appearance is yet to be confirmed.

Number of burned trucks spikes

Following the torching of at least 20 trucks last Thursday and five trucks on Saturday night, more trucks were set alight on Monday night through to the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Trucks were reportedly set alight in Leondale, Germiston, and Vosloorus, with a truck driver shot before being burnt in his truck, according to SA Long Distance Truckers.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) has now called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene before citizens “take the necessary steps” to protect their employees, assets, property and the sustainability of their businesses.

In the Western Cape, two unknown cars allegedly tried to force a truck to stop, though the driver managed to get away.

In Mpumalanga, two more trucks were torched in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

According to All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa (ATDFASA), the national shutdown – scheduled to take place from 23 November to 25 November – was a protest against the employment of foreign national drivers in the SA trucking industry.

“Truck owners prefer foreign national drivers because they don’t want to comply with the labour law and with the main collective agreement of the NBCRFLI [National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry] because foreign national drivers are cheap labour for them and work like slaves with long hours for them because foreign drivers do not complain. We as ATDFASA have talked about this for more than three years but no change has been done and the same issue continues,” read a statement from the organisation.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Five more trucks set alight as ‘war’ against drivers continues 

RFA call for action

In a statement, the RFA called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the protests.

“Again, the road freight companies find themselves being attacked by forces under the pretext of foreign nationals ‘taking jobs away from citizens’. This results in damaged and totally destroyed lives, companies, employment opportunities, economic activity, goods, vehicles, facilities, roads and foreign investment to move goods through South Africa into Africa.

“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.”

The NBCRFLI – which includes unions – has a scheduled meeting with ATDFASA for 1 December 2020, said the RFA, expressing disappointment with ATDFASA for protesting despite the scheduled meeting.

“The increase in lawlessness, common criminality, looting, arson, pillaging, intimidation, black-mail 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.

“The country cannot allow this state of lawlessness to continue…

“Mr president – we respectfully require your urgent intervention, through your call to all stakeholders to partner in finding a solution to this crisis. Whilst we all must remain mindful of not entertaining rogue groups who will try to take advantage of situations, we must create an opportunity for all stakeholders to participate.”

The Department of Transport has not yet released any information regarding any measures being taken.

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