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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Truck Drivers Who Block Roads Must Be Arrested And Dealt With Heavily, says Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the blocking of roads by protesting truck drivers saying it amounts to economic sabotage and the perpetrators should be arrested.

Ramaphosa said the truck drivers’ protest was one of the first things he planned to address on Wednesday, after returning from his West Africa tour.

“It is one of the number one issues I am going to deal with when I come back home,” Ramaphosa said in an interview at Gorée Island in Senegal on Tuesday afternoon.

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12 people, a majority of them truck drivers, were arrested in connection with a protest that severely disrupted traffic on the key N3 corridor between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The highway was fully reopened on Saturday after truck drivers barricaded the toll route from 3 am on Friday, causing major disruptions at Van Reenen’s Pass.

Truck operators said the government’s alleged failure to provide feedback on the employment of foreign drivers had ignited the protest action.

The drivers appeared in the Ladysmith magistrate’s court on Monday, were charged with contravention of the Criminal Law Amendment Act and the Road Traffic Act.

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They were remanded in custody and will be back in court for a formal bail hearing on December 10.

Ramaphosa said blocking the N3 was completely unacceptable.

“To go commit sabotage like that on a major artery of our economy is tantamount, as far as I am concerned, to economic sabotage.

“It’s an act that we are going to be coming down on heavily. We can’t continue to allow such a situation. It happened while I was here, and a clear instruction is that road needs to be cleared and those who are responsible should be arrested so law and order become the order of the day.”

Read also: 12 Truck Drivers to Remain Behind Bars Over N3 Blockade at Van Reenen 

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Ramaphosa acknowledged there was a group of people disgruntled about the continued employment of foreign nationals.

“The ministers have been in discussion and have even set up an interministerial committee to address that from all points of view.”

Ramaphosa said the ministers would report back to him so the government could decide how best to resolve the matter.

“Obviously the truckers want quick answers. They want answers on issues that are of great concern to them. We are addressing that to avoid a situation like what we saw recently because it is completely unacceptable,” he said.

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