Truck drivers whose trucks were torched near Ladysmith on Tuesday morning have spoken about their dramatic escape from marauding protesters.

One trucker had to fire warning shots to get the violent crowd off his back.

“When I got here the trucks were being stopped. I had no choice but to run because the protesters were already throwing stones at me. I fired warning shots and they stopped chasing me. I could not even go back and take my things.

“I have never been so afraid. My life was on the line,” said Joseph Chihwai.

Chihwai was travelling from Durban to Limpopo when he met the protesters, he said the only thing he managed to salvage from the truck was his phone.

Another driver, Musa Khumalo, said he was travelling with his assistant from Dundee to Port Shepstone when they saw protesters blocking the road with rocks and trees.

Khumalo said that fearing for their lives, they decided not to stop after the armed protesters pelted the truck with stones. He said that while they were fleeing, they realised that the road ahead had been blocked with two trucks.

“We had to stop the truck and quickly jump out. There were just too many of them, and it was dark.

As we ran towards the bush they chased us, while others began looting the truck. Eventually we managed to hide in the bush,” said Khumalo.

He said they stayed in the bush until 2am when the police came to their rescue and took them to the Colenso police station

“At that time, the trucks were not yet burnt. The police could not do anything as there were just too many protesters. I will never forget this day in my life. I nearly died, and at least this happened at night where we managed to hide. If it had happened in broad daylight, they were going to burn us with the truck,” he said.

The attacks came after protests which shut down the northern KwaZulu-Natal town.

The community is demanding the immediate removal of Alfred Duma Municipality mayor, Vincent Madlala. He is accused of corruption, crippling service delivery within the municipality and being involved in ongoing taxi violence.

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