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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Boss shocked to see his driver hijack and burn subcontractor’s truck

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In a startling turn of events during the truck attacks last week, a director at SG Coal, a prominent coal transportation company, expressed shock upon learning that one of their employees was allegedly implicated in an assault on a truck owned by a subcontractor.

Nelson Shongwe, a driver for SG Coal, was captured on dashcam footage hijacking and subsequently setting ablaze a truck.

He appeared alongside four other suspects Sibusiso Mthethwa, Fundile Mpondo, Mafika Sibane, and Nkosingiphile Gumede who were also linked to the recent series of truck burnings.

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The Ermelo magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga held a hearing for the five suspects, where their case was postponed until next week. They face charges of conspiracy to commit malicious damage to property, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and attempted murder.

Peter Mountford, the director of SG Coal, expressed his surprise during an interview with Sowetan. Mountford stated that Shongwe was identified by the Anti-Crime Security Unit, a private company contracted by the subcontractor who apprehended him.

Notably, Shongwe was off duty at the time of the attack.

Mountford emphasized that the company does not employ foreign nationals and remains perplexed as to what motivated Shongwe and his associates.

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He also clarified that SG Coal has had no previous issues with its employees and will initiate a separate internal process against Shongwe, ultimately leading to his dismissal.

According to Mountford, Shongwe is the only SG Coal employee among the five individuals arrested.

The subcontractor, who requested anonymity, informed Sowetan that his driver, allegedly accosted by Shongwe, is still traumatized and hesitant to return to work.

Read | Suspect Caught on Dashcam Hijacking Truck, Setting it on Fire as Attacks on Trucks Continue

The driver was en route to deliver coal in Richard’s Bay when he unexpectedly encountered two burning trucks on the N2 between Piet Retief and Ermelo, approximately 45km from his workplace.

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Initially assuming it was an accident, the driver proceeded cautiously.

Dashcam footage from the truck’s cabin captured the driver stopping the vehicle and engaging in conversation with an individual who approached the window.

According to the subcontractor, the assailant, wearing a hoodie, brandished what appeared to be a firearm and threatened the driver with dire consequences unless he exited the vehicle.

The driver complied, and the attacker took control of the wheel before igniting the cabin using a flammable substance.

Fearing for his safety, the driver fled the scene, losing his wallet, driver’s license, banking cards, and professional driver’s permit in the process.

The subcontractor revealed that the driver had been in his employ for over a year.

Furthermore, the incident has severely impacted his business, resulting in significant income loss. With his truck and trailer valued at R3.2 million, he now faces an insurance excess fee of approximately R500,000.

Expressing his frustration, the subcontractor highlighted the fallacy in the perpetrators’ claims that foreign drivers are usurping local employment opportunities.

Notably, none of the burnt trucks involved foreign drivers. To date, a total of 21 trucks have been set on fire in coordinated attacks across Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Gauteng.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, in a statement last Wednesday, announced that a dozen individuals of interest had been identified through extensive investigations and intelligence gathering, with most of them located in northern KZN.

Cele described the evidence as indicative of “organized, coordinated, and sophisticated operations” aimed at undermining and sabotaging the state.

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