Truckers hurt in KZN attacks

2011-02-18 00:00

THREE trucks were attacked in KZN on Wednesday night and yesterday amid the ongoing freight drivers’ strike.

A passenger in a  truck was shot twice in the head in an attack on the N3 near Tweedie in Howick late on Wednesday night.

In the same area, a driver sustained serious injuries to his face when his truck was hit by a rock thrown off a bridge.

Two men were seriously injured when their truck was petrol-bombed near Pinetown yesterday afternoon.

The truck was ambushed on the M7 motorway in Queensburgh after 4 pm, ER24 spokesperson Derrick Banks said.

“Petrol bombs were thrown at the cabin of the truck. The windows were slightly opened. We suspect the petrol bombs were thrown against both windows. The men caught fire,” said Banks.

The driver lost control of the truck which hit an embankment. The fire was put out and the arsonists fled.

Police believe the attacks are linked to the ongoing nationwide truck drivers’ strike.

The strike has led to dozens of arrests, with about 20 trucks damaged around the country and petrol starting to run short at filling stations countrywide.

The four unions — the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of SA; Professional Transport Workers’ Union; the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union and the Motor Transport Workers’ Union — have been on strike since Monday.

They are set to continue striking today after they again rejected an offer of a wage increase by the Road Freight Employers’ Association yesterday afternoon.

At about 10 pm on Wednesday, a Durban-based UniCargo Logistics truck travelling to Johannesburg was shot at, leaving passenger Amin Ramadhan (33) in a serious condition, with two gunshot wounds to the head.

The truck driver, Pascal Nibizi (37), who escaped unharmed, told The Witness yesterday he was approaching the Tweedie offramp when the truck was suddenly shot at.

“I accelerated and one gunshot hit the windscreen on my side, but the bullet did not penetrate … As I was driving away from the gunshots, I noticed [Ramadhan] lying on the floor. I continued driving fast until I reached a police station.”

Siphamandla Zondi and Alson Zikalala, who were travelling to Durban in their Benoni-based Nixon Transport truck, were also attacked in Tweedie at about 8.40 pm.

Passenger Zondi said a rock weighing about three kilograms was thrown from a bridge near Tweedie and smashed the truck’s windscreen, hitting Zikalala in the face.

Although Zikalala was badly hurt, he managed to control the truck, which swerved slightly off the road, Zondi said.

“We stopped a few metres away from the bridge and tried to contact police, but there was no [cellphone] network. Luckily a motorist passing by stopped for us and we managed to contact the police and ambulance.”

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said no arrests have been made, but two cases of attempted murder have been opened.

Anyone with information about the incidents should call Howick branch commander Captain Subba Naidoo at 033 239 9330 or 082 411 6535.

UNIONS are demanding a 10% increase for 2011 and the same percentage increase next year. The RFEA initially offered the more than 60 000 strikers 7,5% for 2011 and 2012 before upping the offer to 8,5% for both years. The offers were rejected by the unions and RFEA increased their offer to nine percent for this year and 8,5% in 2012.

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