Law enforcement officers in the Western Cape are keeping an eye on the national roads, after three trucks were hijacked and used to block the highway on the N1, heading to Paarl, on Monday night.
Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell’s spokesperson Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka confirmed the incident. She said the trucks were removed by law enforcement agencies soon after they blocked the road.
Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi said Kraaifontein police attended to a scene on the N1 highway on Monday at about 20:35.
Swartbooi said, according to reports, unknown suspects attempted to hijack a truck, after which they blocked the N1 highway with the truck, pointing their firearms at the drivers of the trucks.
He said the unknown suspects threw the keys of the trucks into the nearby bushes. Three more trucks were hijacked and used to block the highway.
“We can confirm that no shots were fired. No injuries have been reported to the police on the scene. The unknown suspects fled the scene in an undisclosed direction,” said Swartbooi.
He said three suspects (men) have since been arrested and detained.
“They are expected to make a court appearance in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court once charged, on charges of public violence, pointing of a firearm, and attempted hijacking.”
This comes after a weekend trucker protest at Middelburg in the Eastern Cape, and in Montrose and Harrismith, northbound (towards Gauteng) at Tugela Plaza.
The protest which prompted Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to urgently intervene, and plead with the drivers and operators to open the blocked roads.
Truck drivers said they were dissatisfied with the employment of foreign nationals as drivers, instead of South African drivers.
SA National Cargo Transport Drivers Association (Sancatdra) president Daniel Mofokeng, said he was not aware about the incidents in the Western Cape. However, they were calling for a national protest of truck drivers.
Mofokeng said they have given the ministers seven days to respond to their demands. He said they would intensify the protest action should the government not deregister all foreign truck drivers.
He claimed that South Africans were being marginalized and that trucking companies preferred foreign drivers who worked for cheaper rates.
Road Freight Association (RFA) chief executive Gavin Kelly called on Police Minister Bheki Cele, and Transport Minister Mbalula to utilize their respective appointed peace officers to ensure that public roads remained open and free to use for all citizens, including the vehicles operated by freight and logistics companies.
Kelly said the continual attack on the logistics supply chain, and the wilful disregard by sectors who continued to drive agendas outside the collective bargaining structure, or to further their grievances by attacking the law-abiding citizenry, must be brought to a stop, immediately.
He said the government has promised to resolve the matter of illegal foreigners (in whatever industry) for a number of years but has not done what was promised.
“Transporters (freight operators) who abide by the collective agreement signed with the representatives of truck drivers (unions) are targeted time and again without reason.”
Among the agreements reached between the ministers and the disgruntled drivers and operators were that truck drivers and small truck operators would set up a small technical team that would engage with the government on the issues.
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