Truck Attacks: Stop the bluster and arrest the arsonists

Issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP – DA Shadow Minister of State Security
13 Jul 2023 in News
  • Why is it that no arrests have been made in relation to recent attacks on trucks in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal?
  • Clear video evidence of one of the arsonists caught in the act is available, yet no action has been taken.
  • The DA will open a case against the truck attackers under the POCDATARA Act, which addresses acts of terrorism and related activities.

Please find attached a soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

The DA is deeply concerned about the lack of arrests made in relation to the recent attacks on trucks in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. Despite Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s claim that the State Security Agency knows who is behind the torching of trucks. Added to this are the assurances from Police Minister Bheki Cele that there are 12 persons of interest, yet not a single arrest has been made.

The DA finds it unacceptable that even with clear video evidence flooding social media sites showing the identity of one of the arsonists caught in the act, no action has been taken. It raises serious questions about the competence of the state security apparatus.

We demand to know why none of the masterminds of the July 2021 unrests have been arrested, as well as why the perpetrators of the recent truck attacks are still at large. This despite over 300 deaths and 21 billion in damages. These acts of arson have happened on the exact anniversary of those riots two years ago which had such a massive destructive impact on infrastructure, and lives.

The security cluster was caught with its pants down during the July riots two years ago – it was catastrophic – and where was crime intelligence? Sadly today we are asking the same question – despite everyone knowing about the threats to our truckers, there was zero security in evidence.

One has to ask why we pay the security cluster, specifically Crime Intelligence, or not doing their work? Each of the 21 trucks burned was worth well over R2 million – without adding the cost of the cargo.

Considering these failures, the DA will take action. We will open a case against the truck attackers in terms of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA Act). This legislation is designed to address acts of terrorism and related activities, and it provides the necessary legal framework to deal with individuals who engage in acts of sabotage and pose a threat to our national stability and economy.

By initiating legal proceedings under the POCDATARA Act, we will send a strong message to any criminal contemplating such acts. The DA will not allow the perpetrators of these attacks to walk away unpunished, just as we have witnessed with the instigators of the July unrests. We demand justice and accountability.

The DA will urge the National Prosecuting Authority to proceed with charges against the attackers in terms of the POCDATARA Act. We call on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to conduct a full and proper investigation into these attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice. These economic terrorists must face the consequences of their actions, and the law must be applied to its fullest extent.

These attacks on the road freight sector are not isolated incidents. The level of coordination and precision displayed indicates a deeply concerning state of affairs, where criminals have managed to outmanoeuvre law enforcement agencies. This failure reflects the incompetence demonstrated during the July 2021 unrest, which had devastating human and economic consequences.

The DA recognizes the far-reaching economic consequences of these attacks. They not only result in immediate destruction of property but also strike at the heart of our economy. We are witnessing economic sabotage designed to destabilise our economy further, causing major economic losses and devastating the livelihoods of countless South Africans. The reality is that without trucks, the country just stops. Our rail network has collapsed, so without trucks and the hit on the logistics supply, we’ll see more job losses, more businesses closing and global investors choosing other, safer countries to invest in.

In contrast to the government’s inaction, the DA will not allow our economy and businesses to suffer at the hands of these mafias and cartels. We will take decisive action through the legal framework provided by the POCDATARA Act. Any act that involves systematic violence, substantial damage to property, major economic loss, or extensive destabilisation of our economy, is defined as a terrorist activity under this Act. The attacks on trucks meet these criteria, and we will pursue justice accordingly.

It is time for the government, including Minister Bheki Cele, Deputy President Paul Mashatile, and President Cyril Ramaphosa, to put their words into action. We demand arrests, and we demand them now. The DA will not rest until the perpetrators are behind bars, facing the consequences of their actions.

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