Kabelo Tlhabanelo

Truck drivers say they have been arming themselves to defend against attackers who have been burning trucks and assaulting drivers.

Videos showing drivers with guns and holding fire extinguishers have been circulating on the internet, with defiant drivers saying they’ll defend themselves.

Trucks have been attacked and burned in attacks, and police say they arrested 25 people between July and November for the attacks. 

Free State police say they have increased visible patrols. But drivers are on high alert, after warnings that they should stay off the roads in December. 

Some drivers say some attacks are xenophobic.

One truck driver told Scrolla.Africa: “Go to Namibia, Mozambique and other countries and you will see they employ their own people. But in South Africa, the so-called rainbow nation, there are more foreigners driving trucks than South Africans. The people who attack the trucks want that to stop,” he said.

“There is a warning that from 1 December until 10 December no trucks should be on the roads but there are South Africans who are still risking their lives and ignoring it.”

Another driver said he has seen a lot of police patrolling in Free State. 

“We have decided that when the night comes, we don’t continue to drive but park at the truck stop,” he said. 

Drivers said the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), which has campaigned against foreign drivers, had issued the warning against driving in December. 

The ATDF denied this. ATDF advisor Bulelani Mhlatshana said the organisation advocated “the enforcement of the country’s labour laws”, adding they’d never support the burning of trucks.

Free State police spokesman Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said there had been no attacks since 21 November, and police were still looking for the suspects behind the latest attack. National police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili told Scrolla.Africa the police were also investigating the attackers’ motives.

When asked on how the police felt about drivers who armed themselves, she said: “I cannot comment on the rumour.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said: “As South Africans we cannot possibly tolerate the mindless and bloody lawlessness with which the road freight industry is being targeted.”

Video source: Facebook