Police arrested five undocumented truck drivers during a sting operation in Bayhead Road outside the Durban Port on Thursday morning.
Premier Sihle Zikalala, who attended the law enforcement operation that was led by his office, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, and Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Ravi Pillay, said the operation had been launched following the All Truck Drivers’ Forum (ATDF) complaints about illegal workers in the freight and logistics sector.
The operation focused on verifying the validity of truck driver licences and permits, inspecting documents of foreign truck drivers, searching trucks for prohibited, restricted and counterfeit goods, and the enforcement of traffic regulations and crime fighting.
Zikalala said that the enforcement of compliance in the freight and logistics industry would be intensified.
“This multidisciplinary law enforcement operation is also intended to address complaints about the dominance of foreign nationals in the freight and logistics industry. Foreign nationals working in the country are required to have the requisite permits and documents that meet the requirements of South Africa, but in most cases the truck drivers are driving on our roads without those documents,” Zikalala said.
“Within an hour since the operation started this morning five undocumented foreign truck drivers were arrested, which proves that there are a lot of truck drivers who are driving heavy goods vehicles without proper documents,” he said.
Police had confiscated counterfeit goods with an estimated value of more than R1 billion during integrated multidisciplinary law enforcement operations in KwaZulu-Natal in the past 12 months, he added.
“The proliferation of counterfeit goods is tantamount to economic sabotage because these illicit activities steal the market share from legitimate businesses and have negative implications for economic growth,” Zikalala said.
He called on Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, to expedite labour policy to regulate local employment of foreign nationals, especially in the areas of scarce and critical skills.
“We don’t believe that South African companies that are based in the country should prioritise the employment of non-South Africans because we don’t believe that driving trucks is a scarce skill that is the reason behind our call to Minister Nxesi to expedite the policy that will regulate the employment of foreign nationals,” he said.
“We also call on the associations representing truck drivers not to blockade roads or burn tyres when they have grievances, but they must engage with us. We will also engage the freight and logistics industry to prioritise the employment of South Africans. We believe these operations will help us to reduce complaints, violent protests but also to regulate the freight and logistics industry.”
He said the government was not against foreign-owned freight and logistics companies based outside the country that employed foreign drivers, but when they drove trucks in South Africa, drivers had to have valid permits and documents.
He also called on truck driver associations not to resort to violence and road closures to voice their grievances.
"We have a functioning forum led by national and provincial government where the industry and drivers regularly meet with government. We should not ever strike over foreign truck drivers. This and other matters can, and will, definitely be resolved," Zikalala said.
Integrated multidisciplinary law enforcement operations, involving government agencies, including the SAPS, National Defence Force, Metro Police, Road Traffic Inspectorate, the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Labour would continue to ensure compliance in the freight and logistics industry and to address challenges facing truck drivers, he added.