A truck burns on the N3 highway, the main link between Johannesburg and Durban, on Sunday night. As many as 10 trucks had been set alight. Picture: SUPPLIED
A truck burns on the N3 highway, the main link between Johannesburg and Durban, on Sunday night. As many as 10 trucks had been set alight. Picture: SUPPLIED

SA's exports and imports could be hit hard if a planned strike in the trucking industry goes ahead as planned on Monday and Tuesday.

Threats on social media, from which the Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) distanced itself, said the strike will take place on September 1 and 2.

There has been tension between foreign and SA truck drivers, with the latter accusing the former of stealing their jobs. This has led to scores of foreign national truck drivers being attacked and their trucks torched on the busy N3 and N2 roads.

The violence spurred an interministerial delegation to meet truck owners and drivers in June. At the time, police minister Gen Bheki Cele said the attacks constituted economic sabotage and would not be tolerated.

This was after the International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) threatened to prevent SA-registered trucks and buses leaving SA if the industrial action went ahead.

On Friday, ICTA president Denis Juru said the association's drivers were operating in the country legally, and warned that “no-one has monopoly on violence”.

“If they turn to be violent to foreign nationals, our organisation shall respond accordingly,” he warned. Juru called on the SA government to protect foreign nationals.

“We have previously witnessed foreign nationals killed, assaulted and threatened without a single person being arrested or prosecuted.”

SA’s trade with the rest of Africa is largely by road. If ICTA threats are acted on, billions of rand in trade could be lost.

Satawu said the origins of the strike are unknown. It said no union within the national bargaining council for road freight and logistics industry called for it.

“Consequently, we are concerned for the safety of truck drivers, and urge trucking companies to be cautious because in the past strikes called by faceless people have often resulted in gruesome attacks on truck drivers with trucks they drive set alight,” said Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za