Truck arson attack suspects appear in court

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Five people were set to be charged at around noon today in the Ermelo Magistrate’s Court for malicious damage to property, hijacking, public violence and possibly attempted murder, all related to last week’s arson attacks in Mpumalanga.

According to an Eye Witness News reporter, the attempted murder charge seemed likely since a woman was injured in one of the attacks.

The court appearances follow the arrest of three suspects last week, and a further two over the weekend.

Four of the suspects are truck drivers employed by various unidentified road freight operators.

A fifth suspect has been identified as a former truck driver.

They range in age from 21 to 50.

Deputy police director Shadrack Sibiya reiterated what Police Minister Bheki Cele has said, that last week’s truck torching in South Africa’s logistics sector is not in any way linked to the unrest of July 2021 when the logistics industry came under attack after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed.

He said the suspects had told police their actions were in protest against transporters employing foreign national drivers.

He added that all the suspects had expressed their disgruntlement about the presence of foreign national drivers working in the local logistics industry to their employers, but to no avail.

This has been confirmed by Sefiso Nyathi, secretary of the All Truck Drivers Forum, one of the organisations linked to violently opposing foreign nationals working in South Africa’s road freight sector.

When the suspects were due to appear in court, a heavy police presence was maintained.

At about 13:00 today, July 17, it was unclear how they had pleaded to the various charges brought before the court.

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