In a viral video circulating online, a man was filmed stealing diesel from a Phumaphambili truck. It’s alleged that he is the truck driver.
The video has sparked a heated debate on trucking social media platforms with others sympathising with the driver while others wish to see him rot in jail.
The debate has no neutrals, it’s either you support the guy or not ‘full stop’.
But why would anyone symphathise with a thief caught redhanded?
It’s an interesting development where those who ‘understand’ the driver try to shift the blame onto the unfavourable employment conditions some drivers operate in.
I have imported the following comments from the social media platforms and intentionally left out the authors for obvious reasons.
“That’s my chow mucher, what does the boss expect me to eat when he does not give me?”
By law, if a driver is going to sleep out on duty he should be given meal money. Bosses should be very wary if their drivers don’t ask for it. They could be milking you nicely.
“I only get paid per trip, no basic, that’s where my basic comes from”
Many trucking companies are guilty of not paying the stipulated minimum basic pay for drivers. While I maintain there is not enough reason to validate stealing, this however provides the culprit something to counter their guilty conscience and go ahead and steal.
“If you get underpaid, as a man you got to make a plan”
The issue of underpaying is rife within the industry and authorities have not entirely been able to convince employees that in case of mistreatment they will be protected. It leaves the neglected driver to try and fend for himself even risking to steal from an employer.
“If your boss swears at you and does not respect you, take whatever you can before he eventually fires you. Do it quick because it may be tomorrow and you will leave with nothing”
Given how easy it has become to replace a driver, some bosses mistreat their drivers and do not respect them. It becomes easy for the driver to not care also whether he loses the job or not. They end up stealing also.
“Have you ever heard of a Tanker Services driver stealing diesel? It’s only these oppressive and underpaying companies that gets affected”
Personally I haven’t heard of any driver scandals at Tanker Services, instead, I hear that their drivers stay with the company very long, some up until they retire.
“It’s called profit sharing, my boss buys stolen diesel, what does he expect me to do. I’m learning from my master”
It does not justify the driver’s actions but the boss will not have a strong moral ground to stand on to confront the driver.
“If you find a R10 note on the floor will you not pick it up because you have R20 000 in your bank account?”
If the diesel is just lying there without any accountability opportunist are bound to pounce.
It’s a temptation that many fail to beat, only if they could spare the thought of the consequences of being caught while helping themselves to the company property.
“Everyone else is doing it”
Some drivers end up stealing because they see their mates succeed all the time.
If you decide not to when everyone else is doing it then you are labelled a sellout.
“Pay your drivers well and you won’t have problems”
Paying your drivers well sounds reasonable in a bid to avoid thieving however it’s not necessarily true as some of the drivers are serial thieves, lucky to have not been jailed.
No matter how much they get paid they will still make a plan to steal from their employers.
There is a kind of diesel thieves also that just can’t resist the opportunity presented by their companies. Some trucking companies are run by people with no truck driving experience hence they don’t know how much diesel is required for a certain trip.
The driver will seize the opportunity and take all the extra diesel.
Another somewhat hilarious comment in response to that was “It’s not theft if the boss does not see it and he is still making profit”
The comment implies that as long as the companies stay afloat the driver won’t stop stealing. He, however, may not live longer at the company to see it eventually close down and cost drivers their jobs.
“I saved it”
They are the best drivers in terms of fuel consumption. Don’t fool yourself that they are doing it for the company. They save it then take it for themselves. These somehow ‘smart thieves’ have learnt to survive in what they call very difficult circumstances. You may not notice the crimes because they operate ‘within your set boundaries’
One guy once told me that his boss accompanied him on a round trip Johannesburg – Durban and checked how much diesel he used. He made his benchmark from there only allowing 40litres extra.
“I learnt to save from his benchmark fuel until I could take some for myself, after all, he doesn’t give me food money,” he said.
[su_note]The writer requested that he remain anonymous. Opinions expressed in this article do not in any way represent SA Trucker’s views on the subject matter but the writer’s.[/su_note]