17 trucks torched on SA freeways

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Four trucks were set alight on the N2 during the early hours of Wednesday, bringing the number of trucks torched on South Africa’s key corridor national freeways to 17 over the past week.

This comes after Provincial Police Commissioner, lieutenant general Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, announced that the police would assemble a crack team to investigate arson attacks on the province’s logistics sector after an initial six trucks were burned on the N3 in Van Reenen’s Pass.

According to a reliable KwaZulu-Natal security social media group, four trucks were set alight early on Wednesday morning.

Videos of a truck ablaze and a second that had burnt out on the N2 were circulated widely on social media.

Today’s latest incident occurred just north of Sheepmoor near Ermelo in Mpumalanga.

The police, Anti Crime Security Unit (ACSU) security personnel and the fire brigade were on the scene, a report said.

“Expect the N2 to be closed for most of the day. Take the alternative route via Amsterdam,” the report said.

This latest incident follows the torching of two trucks on the N2 near Empangeni on Tuesday and the Van Reenen’s Pass arson attacks in the early hours of Sunday.

Before yesterday’s N2 attacks, five trucks were set alight on the N4 at Waterval Boven in Mpumalanga.

South African Police Service (Saps) spokesperson brigadier Jay Naicker said the two trucks torched on Tuesday had been set alight as they waited in a queue along the N2 freeway.

“It is alleged that a group of armed men attacked the drivers of the two trucks and robbed them of their belongings.

“The men were forced out of the trucks before the trucks were set alight. Police in Empangeni are investigating a case of armed robbery, malicious damage to property and attempted,” Naicker said.

A Saps spokesperson had not responded to a request for comment regarding the latest torching of the four trucks on the N2 at the time of publication.

However, KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka, said in a statement that he welcomed the decision by the police to assign a high-level team to investigate the torching of trucks and incidents of economic sabotage on the N3.

He said the incidents on the N2 on Tuesday had sparked outrage in the industry as there are reports that suspects were armed, forced the drivers out and started setting the truck alight.

These trucks were carrying goods amounting to millions of rands.

“Government strongly believes that these incidents are part of economic sabotage and stronger interventions are needed to protect the strategic routes transporting essential goods and linking various provinces,” Hlomuka said.

Hlomuka said he had directed all structures within the KwaZulu-Natal Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS), including municipalities, to ensure an integrated response in dealing with the torching of trucks.

He has also reached out to other stakeholders within the sector to work with the police and government in ensuring an end to such incidents.

“The decision to assemble a high-level police team is welcomed. Government is of the view that such acts of criminality must be dealt with decisively and with greater speed.

“These incidents undermine the progress we are making in achieving economic recovery as a province. Sabotaging the economy will result in job losses and unemployment. Efforts led by the police will continue monitoring and ensuring visibility on the strategic routes,” Hlomuka said.

In a separate incident, a manhunt for six suspects is underway in Limpopo after trucks were burned on the road linking Sekhukhune with Mashishing (Lydenburg).

According to police a tip-truck driver on his way to a chrome mine was stopped and forced to leave his cabin by climbing out the window of his Scania’s cabin.

After the assailants torched his truck they apparently also set fire to two more trucks.

The Limpopo attacks brought the number of trucks torched since the latest spate of truck burning started in Van Reenen over the weekend to 20, although this could not be confirmed.

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