This is economic sabotage – trucking industry

“What is happening in this country is complete anarchy and the real black South Africans who are in trucking and mining businesses are suffering.” These were the words of a disappointed mining magnate, Bongani Phillip.

Phillip, chairperson and CEO of LI Coal Resources, was one of the businessmen whose trucks were torched on Wednesday in Ermelo, Mpumalanga.

 He said the mayhem unleashed by the arsonists was bent on instigating internal terrorism and economic sabotage.

“It’s all nonsense that those behind this mayhem claim to be fighting foreigners. All my 20 truck drivers are South Africans, without a single foreigner, and it is sad that now two of my employees need to stay at home without a job,”he said.

Philip said all his employees escaped unharmed, even though they were traumatised. “It is lawlessness and criminality in our country that has resulted in this, and our own people are hurting their own black people in this anarchy.

“We should put it clear that these people are destroying assets of their own people. We need to have honest debate among us as black people. We are a violent people.

“The state security needs to gather intelligence and root out all criminality in this country. Those who are torching our trucks need to be arrested and account for their action.

“Our people have turned to hooliganism. I am upset with our people. This is black-on-black violence. Our own black brothers are destroying the assets they need for making a living. This is economic sabotage and the perpetrators should be charged with treason,” said Phillip.

The country woke up last Sunday to 11 trucks being torched in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal – an event that brought about fear the vandalism would create an economic crisis for the ailing South African economy.

To date, 20 trucks have been engulfed in flames in four provinces across the country, notably Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Road freight is one of the major economic activities that drives the country’s economy – with trucks criss-crossing the country and neighbouring countries for trade and transportation of goods.

Phillip said he had just bought the torched truck for R2.7-million last month.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) said it was concerned about these occurrences as they have been going on for more than six years.

“The perpetrators of these crimes are not yet known, but it is concerning that these acts were well coordinated where firearms are used, and the timing and planning well-coordinated.

“The RFA has on several occasions pleaded with the government to act. The police should use intelligence to uproot the cause of this.”

The road freight sector carries 80% of all goods that are moved in and around South Africa, as well as for international markets, and uses South African ports for import and export,” said RFA CEO Gavin Kelly.

Forensic investigator Calvin Rafadi of Bizz Tracers said the torching of trucks was tantamount to vigilantism.

“Currently most truck owners are spending more money for security escort of their trucks. This is economic sabotage, and we need to look at the modus operandi of crime intelligence as well, as they are mainly focused on political factions instead of rooting out criminals that are destroying our economy. The economy of the country is under attack,” said Rafadi.

Trucking Association of South Africa (TASA) president Mary Phadi said there were individuals who were seeking attention from the government – and the arsonists were such individuals.

“As TASA, we note that these treasonous attacks will cripple the country’s economy,” Phadi said.

“Our association is concerned that these incidents will destroy jobs as business activity shrinks and trade moves away from the country. The value of the
number of trucks destroyed amounts to anything between R60-million to R80-million.”

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