‘Economic terrorism’ alert in South Africa

 ·12 Jul 2023

More trucks have been torched across South Africa, adding fuel to the fire for the country’s struggling supply chain following unaccounted-for acts of ‘economic terrorism’.

Over the past three days, 16 trucks have been torched in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Gavin Kelly, the CEO of the Road Freight Agency (RFA), said that these nationwide acts threaten the value chain that transports roughly 80% of the goods in and around South Africa.

According to Kelly, with a rough estimate of 7,000 vehicles being affected for one day, this could lead to R35 million in sector losses running into billions when international business confidence plummets.

“Without trucks, South Africa stops,” he stressed.

Opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said that it plans to open a case in terms of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA Act) to demand a full investigation into the recent attacks on trucks.

“These are not isolated incidents. The sheer precision and efficiency indicate a disturbing level of coordination that has managed to outmanoeuvre the SAPS,” said the DA.

“It is a failing of our law enforcement’s intelligence arm, one that echoes the incompetence demonstrated during the July 2021 unrest that exacted a devastating human and economic toll.”

“In terms of the POCDATARA Act, any act that involves systematic, repeated, or arbitrary use of violence by any means or method, or which causes substantial damage to any property, or causes any major economic loss or extensive destabilisation of an economic system or substantial devastation of the national economy of a country, or which intimidates, induces, or causes feelings of insecurity, including economic security, is defined as a terrorist activity.”

“And that is exactly what this is,” said the DA.

The DA said these attacks have far-reaching economic consequences – striking at a vital cog in the country’s economic machinery.

“This isn’t mere damage; it’s economic sabotage designed to send shockwaves through an economy already reeling from multiple crises,” it said.

Civil rights organisation AfriForum has echoed the DA’s sentiments, urging the minister of police, Bheki Cele, to urgently convene a task force to arrest the people responsible for the truck fires.

Johan Kruger, strategic advisor at AfriForum, said that both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cele must urgently show leadership to curb this wave of truck fires before the situation escalates further.

“It is clear that this is a coordinated effort by groups to commit sabotage, terrorise truck drivers and do economic damage to transport companies and the country’s economy.”

“Urgent intervention at various levels is now needed, and Cele cannot bury his head in the sand now,” he said.

As reported by ENCA, the police service will address the media this Wednesday with updates on the recent spate of truck attacks.

Officials are expected to provide the latest information on the police efforts to end the attacks and how they plan to get to the bottom of who is coordinating the burnings.

Read: South Africans are getting buried – and many are digging even deeper

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