Business Maverick


Truck attacks – five torched on N4 in Waterval Boven, follows similar attack on N3

Truck attacks – five torched on N4 in Waterval Boven, follows similar attack on N3
Six trucks were set alight on Van Reenen's Pass in KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo: Twitter / @Abramjee)

The winter truck-burning season has ignited on key South African highways, with incidents at Van Reenen’s Pass on the N3 in KwaZulu-Natal and on the N4 at Waterval Boven in Mpumalanga. Police say it is too early to say whether the incidents are linked, but two years after the July 2021 riots, this kind of criminality is ominous.

Mpumalanga police say the N4 was closed for a few hours on Monday at Waterval Boven after five trucks were forced off the road and set alight late on Sunday night. The incident comes in the wake of a similar attack in the early hours of Sunday at Van Reenen’s Pass, during which the N3, a key artery of the South African economy, also closed for several hours.

“We are not sure whether they are related or not for now. We are not sure if it was just pure criminality or if it was related to the attack in KZN,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told Daily Maverick

Investigations are ongoing and Mohlala said officers remained on the scene at Waterval Boven, where a visible police presence is no doubt welcome.

Mohlala said the trucks targeted in the Mpumalanga attack had various cargoes, including citrus and coal. They had been travelling in the west-bound lanes towards Gauteng. 

On the N3, the south-bound lanes were initially opened on Sunday in a manner that allowed traffic to flow in both directions.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: KZN’s deadly, truck-heavy highways need relief from a functioning rail network

This kind of criminality is always worrying. Disruptions on two highways that are critical to the movement of goods and commodities underline the consequences to the South African economy of crime, which is estimated to be as much as R1-trillion a year.

This is also July, and the incidents unnervingly coincide roughly with the second anniversary of a wave of truck attacks on the N3 that triggered more than a week of rioting and looting in KZN and parts of Gauteng, during which more than 350 people were killed and caused damage worth R50-billion.

Hopefully, the latest incidents will prove to be isolated and not snowball into a season of truck braais. The potential for social unrest in South Africa is very high in the face of an unfolding cost-of-living crisis, crippling power shortages and rising political tensions ahead of the 2024 elections. This is a space to watch closely. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Robert Dempster Dempster says:

    Surely it’s the job of the police to “watch this space closely”? The riots in 2021 were terrifying but extremely well coordinated; how many of the instigators have been jailed? We have a jellyfish President and a paralysed police force that can’t stop the spiral into anarchy.

  • Anne Swart says:

    The N4, N3, and N1 routes into and out of Gauteng are critical for trade, with Gauteng being the major trading hub of the country. The rail infrastructure is, due to the lack of government interest in maintenance, not even considered as a logistic alternative. Superlink trucks conveying 20′ and 40′ containers are only able to travel on major highways, so alternate routes are not an option.

    The N4, N3 and N1 should be considered national key-points, and as such, patrolled and protected. The purpose of paying taxes, aside from providing social care, is to fund a government that provides protection of, and building of infrastructure to enabling trade. Taxes are not only to cover blue light brigades and self-indulgent salaries, travel and accommodation of an inflated bureaucracy. Politicians are public servants and should be answerable for how they encourage and protect trade and industry, because growth in that area creates jobs.

    Daily Maverick should investigate and report on wasted costs forced on businesses that import and export. These wasted costs are recovered in pricing to consumers, which feed inflation.

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    Then they wonder why they can’t find work but of course their primitive behaviour has nothing to do with a failing state. These people will only be happy once SA is back in the Stone Age, perhaps because that’s where they fit the best.

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