A Gauteng trucking company suffered a hijacking and two robberies on their trucks in just one week. This just after Police Minister Bheki Cele announced an increase of 1.7% in truck hijackings to 1,202 cases in the past financial year.
Canterbury CPT Transport suffered significant losses in the past week alone at the hands of brazen criminals.
“One of our trucks full of food was hijacked and two other trucks were robbed,” said company spokesperson Massimo Borgia.
Borgia explained how one of his trucks stopped at a toll plaza on the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban while the driver relieved himself. Upon returning to the truck he was escorted away by unknown men and robbed of his entire load.
Another truck was targeted last week towards Tzaneen, Limpopo, he said. Again the load was stolen.
And in the third case, one of Borgia’s vehicles was hijacked at Heidelberg, south of Joburg. The driver had taken a short break when men forced him out of the truck and robbed off his cellphone.
“They are well-prepared. They came with their own truck and detached the trailer and pulled it away with their own truck. These people are killing our businesses,” he said.
“These incidents have set us back hugely. I understand the poverty [in SA], but these robberies are also stealing from other people as well.”
Cele suggested during the stats presentation that the truck-related crimes were also fuelled by a “labour problem” pointing to friction over the employment of foreign drivers.
Cele explained the trend: “The argument is that the job is given to foreign nationals. Is it wrong to have jobs with foreign nationals? No, it is not. But there are measures that are supposed to be followed.”
Road Freight Association chief executive Gavin Kelly said trucks were also looted during protests.
“Our members lose goods. They have vehicles damaged. They have drivers threatened. They incur financial losses on top of Covid-19 losses. Their premiums increase and their drivers become reluctant to drive unsafe routes or times,” said Kelly.
“There is a continual drain on their ability to earn revenue and they continue to operate in a continual state of fear and uncertainty.”
He said tensions within the trucking industry flared up during July, when there were calls for protests across the country, with several roads being barricaded and trucks burnt or hijacked.
The industry has been marred by violence and vandalism as organisations, said to be representing the interests of South African truck drivers, demand that the government acts against the employment of foreigners.
Crime stats indicated that truck hijackings had increased in particular in Kempton Park in Gauteng.