by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – WHILE there is no evidence the two waves of crime are related, the attacks on trucks around the country, exactly two years after deadly riots, are a ghastly reminder of rampant lawlessness in South Africa.
The torching of the trucks comes two years after South Africa experienced its worst eruption of anarchy as mass looting, acts of arson and wanton destruction was suffered in Gauteng and KwaZulu- Natal (KZN) provinces following the arrest of former president, Jacob Zuma, on contempt of court charges.
Some 354 people lost their lives as a result of that mayhem while business worth $1.7 billion (about R30.6 billion) was destroyed, 40 000 businesses affected, 50 000 informal traders shattered with 150 000 jobs put at risk.
The motive behind the latest violence could not be ascertained but police said evidence points to organised coordinated and sophisticated operations that seek to undermine and sabotage the state.
Intelligence suggests the attacks on trucks may be business-related.
Some suggest this is in protest against the employment of foreign drivers in the sector. To date, all the trucks burnt down were driven by South Africans and owned by South Africans.
“We know that these are not just random acts of criminality,” Minister of Police General Bheki Cele, said.
“Whether it is economic sabotage, labour or service delivery related disputes, police are closing in on those who choose to use violence and intimidation for whatever motive,” Cele warned.
No arrests have been made but Cele said 12 “persons of interest” have been identified through investigations and intelligence collection.
Some 21 trucks have been set alight in the provinces of KwaZulu Natal (KZN), Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
In KZN, a total of nine trucks have been attacked since Sunday.
This includes six burnt along Van Reenen’s pass. On the N11 in Engogo, one truck was burnt.
One truck driver refused to stop when accosted by the group of armed men who shot at the truck. The driver managed to drive away unharmed.
Two more trucks were set alight on the N2 in Empangeni where armed men attacked and robbed the two truck drivers on Monday.
Nine trucks have been torched in Mpumalanga, with the latest incident taking place in the early hours of Wednesday morning between Ermelo and Sheepmore, where four trucks were attacked and set alight.
Five trucks were set alight and attacked on Sunday evening on the N4 near Waterval Boven.
In Limpopo, in the early hours of Monday morning, three trucks heading to a local chrome mine between Lydenburg and Sekhukhune were attacked and burnt by six armed men.
“No matter the motive, the country’s law enforcement remains on high alert and is hard at work at preventing more attacks but also finding these individuals or gangs of thugs hell bent on causing havoc on our roads,” Cele said.
Police have heightened visibility in all provinces. Regular patrols are being conducted along identified high-risk routes.
Cele allayed fears the violence could degenerate into the anarchy of July 2021.
To date 67 people have been arrested on 11 cases related to the anarchy two years ago.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has expressed concern at the criminality. It wants perpetrators charged with terrorism.
“We demand to know why none of the masterminds of the July 2021 unrest have (not) been arrested, as well as why the perpetrators of the recent truck attacks are still at large,” said Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA Shadow Minister of State Security.
She said the security cluster was “caught with its pants down” during the July riots two years ago and it was catastrophic.
“Sadly today we are asking the same question, despite everyone knowing about the threats to our truckers, there was zero security in evidence,” Barnard said.
– CAJ News