South Africa has taken decisive action by deploying the army in response to a series of mysterious truck attacks across the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Mpumalanga (MP), Limpopo (LP), and Free State (FS). Over the course of five days, at least 21 trucks carrying goods were targeted, with armed assailants forcing drivers out of their vehicles before setting them ablaze on major roads.
Truck drivers, such as Nkoskhona from KwaZulu-Natal, who transport essential fuel to various filling stations, expressed relief at the deployment of the military, stating that it would provide a sense of safety for themselves and their families. The burning of trucks has sparked concerns about the security and well-being of drivers who have been operating under risky conditions.
Last week, the Police Minister suggested that the truck burnings could be a form of economic sabotage against South Africa. Law enforcement agencies are currently conducting a manhunt for at least 12 individuals believed to be involved in the attacks. While the exact motives behind these incidents remain unclear, the truck burnings began on Sunday, coinciding with the second anniversary of the 2021 protests.
Authorities have emphasized that there is currently no evidence linking the recent torching of trucks to either the 2021 unrest or former President Jacob Zuma. Nevertheless, the country is on edge due to the ongoing court case involving Zuma, who is currently out of the country receiving medical treatment in Russia for an undisclosed illness. His spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, has not provided a specific date for Zuma’s return.
The motive behind the truck attacks is yet to be established, and it is unclear whether the incidents are interconnected, given their occurrence in different parts of the country. South African Police Minister, Bheki Cele, described these operations as organized and sophisticated. Thankfully, no fatalities or serious injuries have been reported thus far in connection with the torching of trucks.
While truck burnings have previously been witnessed in South Africa as a form of protest against the government’s failure to provide basic services, the recent spate of attacks stands out due to its unusually high number. These incidents have raised concerns about the potential for further violent unrest, particularly in light of a court decision that may lead to the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.
The Department of Corrections has not yet indicated whether Zuma will be ordered back to jail to serve the remainder of his 15-month sentence for contempt of court. However, it is important to note that Zuma’s initial imprisonment two years ago resulted in a week of violent protests, leading to the loss of more than 350 lives. The authorities have denied any direct connection between the truck attacks and the court decision concerning Zuma.
As investigations continue, the deployment of the army in the affected provinces aims to restore a sense of security and protect the vital transportation network essential for the country’s economy.