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Truck drivers urged not to resort to violence as nationwide strike start

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Truck drivers have been cautioned not to resort to violence ahead of their national strike on Monday. This after several incidents of trucks being set alight or stoned in KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces.

Two trucks were set alight on the N3 in Ashburton and another one on N2 near Port Shepstone. In the Eastern Cape, a truck was set alight on Oliphantskop pass causing the closure of the pass. In Johannesburg, a driver was chased by alleged All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) members and his truck was stoned.

The International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) says it believes that the on-going attacks of foreign drivers are criminal, as they have legal permits to be in South Africa. Members belonging to the ATDF are calling on a nationwide strike on Monday, in response to trucking companies taking them to court for allegedly burning trucks.

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Association President, Denis Juru says the Foundation is also lobbying against the alleged excessive employment of foreign nationals.

“We believe these are criminals. It is not an association because there’s no association that can strike against legal people. Those foreign nationals are legal. They have got valid permits and they have South African driver’s license. They are legal in South Africa.”

Juru adds that the on-going attacks on foreign drivers are putting South African businesses at risk.

“South Africa is going to be isolated. There are so many South Africans who are studying in Africa. There are so many South African companies that are going to be affected. If they are going to continue with these attacks on foreign nationals we are going to stop all South African registered vehicles outside South Africa. They are not going to move, which means business will go down – South African economy will go down then we’ll see shortages of fuel shortages of basic commodities.”

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Truck drivers demand employment, better working conditions and salary increments. They claim that foreign nationals are stealing their jobs as employers prefer them for cheap labour.

The National Truck Drivers Foundation has condemned the burning of trucks in KwaZulu-Natal and secretary Siphesihle Muthwa has called for calm.

“We distance ourselves from any violence by the drivers. We plead to South African drivers not tarnish themselves in torching trucks to hurt foreign drivers because we are still in talks with the government.”

The government says acts of criminality will not be tolerated. KwaZulu- Natal Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa says, “ The law allows truck drivers to embark on a peaceful and legal strike but the burning of trucks is an act of criminality that the government strongly condemns.”

The government says workers plight has not fallen on deaf ears. A multidisciplinary team consisting of departments of labour, home affairs and police was set up by Police Minister Bheki Cele last year.

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Drivers have been requested to remain patient as the government continues to work on lasting solutions to their plight.

Police in KwaZulu-Natal remains on high alert after the Sunday incidents.

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