Driver doused with petrol by Mooi River mob

2018-04-04 13:45
Mooi River residents loot a truck during a protest that blocked the N3 toll plaza and the R103 on Tuesday.

Mooi River residents loot a truck during a protest that blocked the N3 toll plaza and the R103 on Tuesday. (Supplied)

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A Port Shepstone truck driver says he is lucky to be alive after he managed to escape unharmed during violent protest action that erupted in Mooi River on Monday.

SNB Freight truck driver Jimmy Dlezi, who was confronted by the large group of angry protesters, told The Witness on Tuesday that he was very grateful that the police arrived just in time to rescue him from death’s claws.

The 42-year-old was doused with petrol when angry protesters barricaded the N3 near the Mooi River toll plaza for hours on Monday.

The cause of the blockade was centered on the employment of foreign nationals in the trucking industry, whom the protesters accused of stealing jobs from locals.

Protesters used burning tyres to block the route and rocks were thrown at passing cars. Fire fighters were also stoned and prevented from putting out the fires.

At least three trucks were burned and looted, including a fuel tanker and a SPAR-branded delivery truck.

Recalling the horrifying ordeal, Dlezi said it was after 4 am on Monday when he saw a crowd of people on the road burning tyres.

“I stopped on the side of the road to phone my employer to explain to tell him what was happening,” he said.

Dlezi had been on his way to make a delivery in Port Elizabeth.

“As we were speaking, the crowd approached the truck and started pelting it with stones.”

A startled Dlezi said he tried to drive off but the disorderly crowd managed to set his trailer alight.

“I was scared because my side window was already broken. I tried to drive off, but just before I could make a U-turn they burned the back trailer, which then forced me to stop the truck.”

He said the crowd, which made off with some of his belongings including his cellphone and wallet, threatened to burn him with his truck.

“I jumped off the truck and tried to run away, but they caught me and pushed me back into the burning truck.”

Dlezi said the men, who were armed with rocks and sticks, said he was a foreigner and was taking their jobs.

He said they poured petrol on him, and pushed him back into the truck and closed the doors.

“They didn’t believe that I was South African. They told me that the company I work for only employs foreigners.

“They said they want to kill me because foreigners come into the country to take their jobs.”

The father of two who has been a truck driver for 22 years said he tried to tell the angry men that he too was South African and even offered to show them his driver’s licence.

Dlezi said he was left “very traumatised”, especially because he was doing his job.

“I’m still scared, but I can’t say I’m going to stop driving. Driving is the only job I know.”

Justine Naidoo of Track and Trace K9 Unit security company said Mooi River “looked like a war zone”.

“They [protesters] got into a frenzy. There were about 15 to 20 men running down the street armed with sticks, stones and knives. The crowd were throwing stones as they ran, and setting fire to the rubbish that was strewn on the road.”

Naidoo said they were forced to monitor the activities from afar as the protesters were throwing stones, blocking them from accessing the scene.

“It was hectic. They were throwing stones and rocks. They were banging on the windows of all the vehicles. I saw them smash a window of one of the trucks that were parked along the road. I think it took about six hours for the police to control the crowd.”

Meanwhile, six people who were arrested during the protest and charged for public violence were released on bail by the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

They were released on R1 000 bail each and their case was postponed to April 24 for further investigations.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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