Opinion – Attacks on the trucking industry continue without any tangible action by law enforcement and state intelligence to get to the root of the matter and stop them at once.
A total of 35 trucks were set alight on the N3 at Mooi River on the night of 29 April 2019 at the beginning of the terror attacks on trucks. One would have thought the country’s intelligence got a rude awakening, but no, trucks continue to be burned every now and then with a few to no arrests. No conviction has ever been registered as yet.
On Thursday night reports suggest that a total of 20 trucks were burnt on the R103, N12, R550 and N3 highways in Gauteng by a terrorist group.
Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of a country’s laws for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom.
The key elements to terrorism are obvious to many — violence, noncombatant targets, intention of spreading fear, and political aims.
There you have it, when the ATDF burnt trucks at Mooi River while trying to intimidate employers and coerce the government into disallowing immigrants from driving trucks in the country that was pure terrorism.
The noncombatant victim in the form of the transporters have not fought back, not sure for how long it will remain like that.
A terrorist’s goal is generally to destroy the public’s sense of security in the places most familiar to them.
In the case of the trucking industry, employers and immigrant truck drivers both major drivers of the South African economy were intimidated into feeling unsafe during their operations.
Disruptions to the trucking industry have the potential to bring the South African economy to its knees if not handled with due care and as such, government is expected to address it with urgency – that’s not what we see though.
After the initial attacks which as usual with terrorists, came as a surprise to authorities, one would have expected hundreds of arrests and prosecutions. The security agencies by now should have had a plan in place to pick up information of attacks before they happen.
The 19 November attacks and several others happening lately exposes the state’s unreadiness in that regard.
Two days after the attacks, neither the department of transport nor the police have addressed the nation on what actually transpired which may mean they are also in the dark.
An attack on our trucks is an attack on the economy
There are conditions in society that are known to enable terrorism to flourish but one would have never thought that joblessness is one such condition.
Terrorism is caused by human insecurity due to poverty, demographic factors, social inequality and exclusion, dispossession, and political grievances amongst other reasons.
While there are various reasons that may give birth to terrorism, nothing really can justify terrorism — ever.
No grievance, no goal, no cause can excuse terrorist acts.
The bad thing with terrorist acts is that the public and the country’s economy suffer the loses. When the economy shrinks life gets harder for the public, people lose their jobs and employment opportunities disappear.
How can you burn trucks because you want employment in the trucks? It does not make sense at all.
You hear some say, destruction is the only language the ANC government understands. That is not true at all. If there is a good cause for showing discontent, everyone involved would join you in peaceful protests that will send a strong message to the government.
Burning trucks is a desperate move by a group of people who know that they cannot convince everyone to join them in protest mainly because their goals are shallow.
Sadly, the defeaning silence of the authorities leaves the public guessing who the perpetrators are with serious consequences of citizens insecurity.
None of the known groupings in the trucking industry have claimed responsibility – which they have never done – but members of the ATDF have celebrated the attacks.
The trucking industry is being pushed to that extend where all trucks will pull off the road to force government into protecting them.
Now, for that cause, all the transporters and drivers will agree to park off. There is no need to be violent but that unity of getting everyone involved is key.
Road Freight Association (RFA) Chief Executive Gavin Kelly condemned the attacks on transporters across the country.
“These are uncalled for – irrespective of the concerns or complaints of the various parties perpetrating this violent attack on the logistics industry.
“The Association, with its Union Partners through the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI,) has availed itself on numerous occasions to solve the issues – has supplied the solutions and has committed itself not to engage in activity that has given rise to this state of affairs. Members are bound to this through the Core Code and are unfairly attacked and targeted by elements who have a dubious agenda.
“The agenda is NOT foreign drivers.
“Is there a wider agenda here – common criminality with the aim to destabilise the country? We call on the President to focus the security resources at his disposal to counter, prevent and prosecute those who would destroy South Africa.
“The Departments of Home Affairs and Labour need to exercise their mandate to ensure the laws of the country are complied with. The SA Police (SAPS) needs to gather intelligence, identify those who incite violence and investigate and prosecute those who do. This needs to end NOW!!” said Kelly.
It has to be known that protesting and destruction are two very different things but in South Africa we have successfully married the two.
If you ask a grade 1 kid what one needs to carry to a protest it won’t be surprising to hear them say a box of matches because they know something should be burned come what may. But why?