Violence exacts huge toll on lives and a R1bn loss in the freight sector

 

 

Thirty-seven-year-old Charles Ntini was shot and killed while driving a truck on the N12 last month.

His lifeless body was found on the Harding road in Paddock, in southern KwaZulu-Natal in the early hours of the morning. Although the motive behind the killing is yet to be determined, it is believed that his death is in line with the ongoing violence against foreign truck drivers on the country’s roads.

Ntini was Zimbabwean, and is one of an estimated 213, mostly foreign, truck drivers who have been killed in these truck attacks since March last year.

The Road Freight Association puts the cost of the ongoing attacks on trucks at about R1.2-billion with 1 200 vehicles and cargo destroyed during this period.

On Tuesday, 20 people were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal in the latest round of violence in the freight industry.


The arrests came after a widely circulated WhatsApp message calling for a strike by South African truck drivers against the employment of foreign drivers.

So far no organisation has taken responsibility for the wave of violence.

A report released by Human Rights Watch last month showed that most perpetrators of the attacks against foreign truck drivers claimed affiliation to the drivers’ organisation, the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) — an allegation which the organisation has denied.

The leader of the foundation, Sipho Zungu, admits that his organisation has been at the forefront of calling for truck owners to refrain from employing foreign truck drivers “in order to protect South African jobs”.

But he denies that his organisation is behind the strikes that occurred this week: “Our organisation has never called for a strike and we have taken the correct steps by engaging with the truck owners and government regarding our grievances.”

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has distanced itself from ongoing strikes in the sector as well as the attacks on foreign truck drivers.

“It’s really ridiculous that people would call a strike via social media and then threaten violence,” said the union’s spokesperson, Zanele Sabela.

“That is problematic to say that people who would be working would be hurt. When you are saying that everyone must stay away from work on Sunday and Monday and threaten that if they dare go to work then they will be hurt, then it’s really problematic.”

Earlier this week, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi released a joint statement describing the ongoing violence in the sector as “economic sabotage” that threatens the economic viability of the Southern African Development Community.

There is also the human cost to consider. Hlulani Mokwena, a transport economist at North-West University, said: “We have to measure the value of lives lost when this type of protest action occurs, largely because if we are just going to have an estimate of the business cost then we are probably going to miss out on the value of lives lost and the long-term economic impact on households and families.

“This is basically a market failure and the labour input is responding to that in a way that is more expensive for smaller operators than the larger operators.”

Thando Maeko is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the Mail & Guardian

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Thando Maeko
Thando Maeko is an Adamela Trust business reporter at the Mail & Guardian

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘Captured’ water utility exec holes up

Thami Hlongwa seems to be in hiding after a blacklisted technology company scored millions from Umgeni Water and the owner was murdered

Step-aside guidelines are not about Ace, says Mathews Phosa

The guidelines must be ‘timeless, uniting and not capable of being abused,’ says ANC veteran

More top stories

Exposing a Congolese bank’s dirty secrets

Meet Gardi Koko and Navy Malela, the two whistleblowers who risked everything to raise the alarm

Pregnant women should be vaccinated, doctors say

New research shows that there has been an increase in maternal deaths during the Covid-19 restriction

Zuma tells ANC top six not to hold their breath

Former president Jacob Zuma will only meet ANC leaders if deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo recuses himself from the state capture commission

Simeone is Atlético’s secret weapon

El Cholo remains true to himself — consistent, totally committed and prepared to graft — and these values are retained by the team
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…