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Monday, July 22, 2024

Arsonist protesters burn Cape Town man’s only truck

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A small business owner has taken a massive blow as a result of a looting and petrol bombing incident in Mfuleni.

Brandon Pillay runs his own small removal and moving business and has done so for the past eight years. On Saturday 18 July, Pillay was helping his brother move and was driving past Mfuleni when, just after 15:00, he was approached by a group of people who forced the truck to a standstill.

“They started stoning the truck and I felt a rock hit my arm through the windscreen,” he says.

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Pillay, who was driving alone at the time of the incident was threatened and robbed of his cellphone. During the attack he heard someone scream to shoot and kill him. This is when he jumped out of the empty truck, flagged down a passing car and went to the Law Enforcement office nearby.

Pillay says despite informing the officers that he had been robbed, threatened and that his truck was stoned, they refused to assist him. He says, instead, they instructed him to go to a police station.

City Vision contacted the City of Cape Town, asking if this conduct was per Law Enforcement officials’ policy, what should have been done in this instance and what the City’s enforcement officers role is in these incidents. The office did not comment, however, Wayne Dyason, the spokesperson for Law Enforcement, says: “An investigation into this allegation has been launched but, up to now, none of the staff members interviewed carry any knowledge of this incident. The complainant has not given any names or description of the people he dealt with so law enforcement has now extended the inquiry to private security officers who may have knowledge of this incident.”

After leaving the office, Pillay returned to the scene where he found his truck on fire. He confirms the matter has been reported police and he has been visited by special investigating unit officials since the incident.

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Still, Pillay says, he is relieved as the day could have ended very differently. “I am physically okay,” he says, adding his wife and children could easily have lost him that afternoon. The attack has left Pillay out of pocket for his truck and unable to fulfil a contract that he was meant to start on Monday 20 July. His attempts at getting another truck have been unsuccessful thus far and he now finds himself having to rebuild his business.

Mfuleni police spokesperson WO November Filander says all incidents should be reported to police. “People need to report these kind of incidents immediately to allow police and other safety forces to attend and prevent further incidents. Although your vehicle might not be damaged, it’s important to alert the police of the incident,” he says.

The Mfuleni area has been plagued by a spate of violent protests, looting and land grabs in recent weeks. “No specific vehicles are targeted. It’s not a common occurrence in our policing area, but in recent weeks, during land invasions, more stoning of vehicles incidents are being reported. This kind of protest and stoning incidents are difficult for police as it is sporadic. For example, the recent incidents occurred mostly in early-morning traffic around 05:00,” he says.

According to a statement sent out by mayor Dan Plato, safety staff have also been hospitalised while trying to quell rising tensions in the area as a result of illegal land invasions. Several City vehicles were also damaged.

Filander encourages drivers to plan ahead to avoid these incidents. “Truck drivers must plan their routes, drive safe distances and speeds. Listen or check traffic reports, and inquire from police or other law enforcement agencies if on-route areas are safe,” he suggests.

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Pillay says authorities should do more to blockade roads when protest action flares up as there was no indication on any radio or news platform that he may have been in danger taking that route. – News24

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