There is growing discontent within the foreign truck drivers in South Africa community who accuse local drivers of constantly harassing them while the government looks on without intervening.
Some are even contemplating downing tools to get the government’s attention saying that they are attacked by vigilante groups after they stop them on the highways.
This is despite the fact that ATDF, the main truck driver group, is in constant meetings with the government to find a permanent solution to the problem of employment of foreign nationals in the freight and logistics industries.
In the last meeting between ATDF, Dept of Home Affairs, Dept of Labour and Employment and NBCRFLI, it was suggested that ATDF register as a union to allow them to be a recognised voice for workers rights.
A foreign truck driver who asked to remain anonymous said he was beaten and his passport destroyed at the Old Airport on the N2 near Isipingo by a group of vigilantes calling themselves ATDF members.
“They stopped me while driving my private car on my way to work and they asked where I was going.
“When I mentioned the trucking company I am working for, they dragged me out of my car and took my passport. Some started sjamboking me while another one tore my passport to pieces,” said the foreign truck driver.
The incident happened on Thursday morning at the entrance to the Old Airport which houses many trucking companies in Durban.
The driver mentioned that police watched from a distance as he was attacked and when he was eventually let go none of the cops offered to help him.
When asked about ATDF members harassing foreign truck drivers, Secretary-General Sfiso Nyathi said that his organisation was pursuing the negotiation route but unemployed drivers, some not from the ATDF, have continued to protest because their concerns are real.
A leader of one of the foreign truck drivers who spoke to SA Trucker said members were calling for a stay away to force the government to protect them.
“We are legally employed but these ATDF guys do not want us to work, the government knows our status but still they remain quiet and not arrest these vigilantes,” said the leader, Gerald, who asked to be identified by his first name only.
“There are foreigners with permanent residence permits, some are married to locals, some on special permits and others are refugees,” he said listing the common statuses of foreigners in the trucking industry.
He said it’s still early to say when they will down tools.
“We are still speaking to other truck driver organisations to see if we can protest or pursue other avenues but from what we have learnt during our stay in this country, a protest may be the only way forward,” he said.