Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

A truck drivers' association, on Monday became the second industry stakeholder to distance itself from the sporadic violent truck drivers strike.

At least 20 people were reported on Monday to have been arrested in KwaZulu-Natal in connection with the ongoing truck strike, and are facing charges of attempted murder and malicious damage to property.

Threats made on social media at the weekend said the strike would be held from Monday to Tuesday.

Beverley short, a committee member of the National Truck Drivers' Foundation (NTDF), told Business Day on Monday that contrary to what had been said on social media, it was not behind the strike.

“It's propaganda that we called for the strike. We committed not to participate in the strike whatsoever. None of our people are involved in this,” she said.

“It's purely criminals who are behind this and they don't want to come forward and admit to who they are. It's not NTDF at all, I will put my head on the block for that. I saw what has been written on social media, that we are behind this, and I was very annoyed.”

She said the NTDF condemned the acts of violence accompanying the strike, which saw a truck torched in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.

“The word on the ground is that [criminals] will probably continue [on Tuesday]. This strike will have an adverse effect on our economy. It will have a domino effect and affect other industries.”

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 Bheki Cele said the attacks constituted economic sabotage and would not be tolerated.

On Friday, the International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) threatened to prevent SA-registered trucks and buses from leaving the country if the industrial action went ahead.

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

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.

The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union was the first stakeholder to distance itself from the strike at the weekend, saying its origins were unknown.

It urged 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”.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za