By Patrick O’Leary, Editor FleetWatch
It’s happened again. At around 23h00 on Thursday evening (January 28th) on the R59 near the Kliprivier off-ramp, five trucks were attacked by a group of men using petrol bombs. Two of the trucks were totally burnt and destroyed while a third was set alight but the driver managed to douse the fire using his fire extinguisher. Two other trucks had their cab windows smashed. A petrol bomb was thrown into one of these cabs but failed to ignite.
In contrast to last November’s attacks in this area where petrol bombs were thrown at trucks from a moving vehicle, the modus operandi of last night’s attacks was for the criminals to burn branches on the road to get the trucks to stop. Once the trucks had stopped, the criminals petrol bombed them and threw rocks through the windows.
This was not about looting as nothing was looted from any of the trucks. What made it even more horrendous is that after smashing one of the truck’s side windows and throwing a petrol bomb into the cab – which failed to ignite – the attackers pulled the driver from his cab and “beat him to a pulp”.
This description was given to me by the line haul manager of the one company whose truck and driver were attacked. He told me his driver had been “beaten to a pulp” and had been taken to the Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus. (FleetWatch has been asked by the operator not to mention any names at this stage for fear of possible reprisals).
By 2.00pm today (January 29th), the company was still trying to get information from the hospital as to the extent of the driver’s injuries and his overall condition so as to give feedback to the driver’s family. However, they were continuously told that such feedback could only be given after the doctor had done his rounds.
“Our Human Resources manager has now gone there with an ambulance service to get him transferred to a private hospital,” the manager told me. This driver has been working for the company for many years and the company is pulling out all stops to ensure he receives the best medical attention possible.
“He is one of the old-school drivers. What happened to him is tragic and completely unacceptable. He is the bread winner for his wife and kids and now he is lying seriously injured in hospital. We can’t go on like this. The conditions under which we are all operating are the worst I have known in my 26 years of being involved in this industry. It just cannot continue like this,” the manager told me.
The driver is a local South African citizen which, once again, attests to the fact that the continuous attacks on trucks are not solely linked to the foreign driver issues. There is some more sinister agenda at play here.
The accompanying photographs show the extent of damage done to the cab as well as the plastic bottle found inside the cab which was used for the petrol bomb.
FleetWatch wishes the driver a speedy recovery. You did not deserve this. Here’s a respectable and honest truck driver going about his business earning a living for his family while keeping the wheels of the economy moving – and he gets “beaten to a pulp”. It sickens us.
The other drivers from the other trucks are all OK but nevertheless traumatised. One of the drivers and his assistant managed to escape by running into the veld and hiding. How awful is that for them? This is not how truck driving should be. Truck drivers should not be subjected to this; living in fear of their lives.