A strong stance against the firebombing of trucks in South Africa’s road freight sector, and an unequivocal appeal for government to act decisively against the threat that the attacks pose to the local economy, has been made by the Exporters’ Club Western Cape (ECWC).
Speaking on behalf of ECWC members and SMMEs, club chair Terry Gale said “we cannot condone what is happening in our beautiful country.
“We need to speak out and address those who are trying to destabilise our economy.
“Bring them to book.
“Justice must prevail, not lawlessness.”
Gale echoed sentiments expressed among the general business community that the arson attacks raging out east on important supply-chain arteries like the N3 could send possible investors running scared.
Addressing President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gale said: “Last week you were able to bring billions of rands of foreign direct investment into our country.
“However, which global investor would want to invest in a country where lawlessness prevails?”
Gale stressed that the current situation, in which vigilantes have set fire to up to 30 trucks – if not more - since last week, “is untenable, unsustainable and a threat to our young democracy”.
Gale emphasised that his views came not only in the wake of the horrific scenes of transport sector violence that had played out across news screens and front pages, but also of an invitation he had received to address the 2021 Investing in Africa Conference in London.
He stressed that in terms of British and EU investment, the May 2021 conference could generate billions of pounds sterling and euro investment in South Africa.
“This will be a golden opportunity for our country and continent to shine, in particular with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area on 1 January.
“Let’s bring those to book and show the financial world that we are serious about growing our economy and our country by creating employment through exports, a great enabler in this regard.”
Gale is not alone in his plea that the President “show his mettle”.
Various private sector business people directly and indirectly involved with South Africa’s road freight sector have said it’s lamentable that the government appears to be lackadaisical about the threat transporters face.
As this report was being drafted, Freight News heard that in Kwa-Zulu Natal two more trucks had been set alight, “this time in broad daylight”, a source said.
Since the attacks flared up last Thursday evening, not a day has gone by that transporters and their drivers in South Africa have not been intimidated, dragged out of their trucks, and forced to witness the wanton destruction of property by brutal arsonists holding the country to ransom.
And while industry waits for action from law enforcement authorities and the powers that be, very little information is being made available about any interventions by the departments of labour, home affairs and transport.
Increasingly, questions are also being raised about whether the reason that the trucks are being burned are, in fact, related to opposition to foreign nationals working illegally in South Africa’s road freight sector.
Some say – actually have said for some time – that something much more sinister is afoot.
The government’s silence also serves to support private-sector suspicions that the attacks aren’t as straightforward as they appear, apparently because job-seeking drivers are being overlooked by low-paying transporters exploiting non-citizens.
Whatever the case may be, the scale of attacks that South Africa’s domestic supply chain interests have been forced to endure, especially on the crucial Gauteng-Durban N3 link, is unlike anything the country has experienced, representing a direct threat to the country’s national security and its economy.
It all begs the question: why is the government dithering while the transport sector burns?