Sixteen freight trucks have been torched in the past two days by unidentified men in different parts of South Africa, local authorities said on Tuesday.
The incidents are believed to be attributed to tensions within the trucking industry over the recruitment of foreign drivers, Police Minister Bheki Cele said, noting that law enforcement was on the hunt for the suspects.
According to KwaZulu-Natal provincial police spokesman Brig Jay Naicker, the latest incident occurred on Monday evening when a group of armed men attacked the drivers of two trucks on the N2 highway near the town of Richards Bay.
“The drivers were stripped of their belongings before the trucks were set on fire,” he added.
Hours earlier, Limpopo Provincial Police revealed that three trucks had been set on fire in the Sekhukhune district in the northeast of the country.
On Sunday, South African authorities said 11 trucks were set on fire in two similar incidents in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was concerned about the attacks “which are having a negative impact on our economy”, calling the truck fires “economic sabotage”.
In 2020, a total of 35 trucks, including 27 in Gauteng province, were vandalized in protest against the recruitment of foreign truck drivers by local freight companies. The damage inflicted on the South African economy was estimated at no less than two billion rand ($130 million).