Highway protests an act of 'economic sabotage' - Cabinet

2018-06-21 17:56
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. (Jan Gerber/News24)

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. (Jan Gerber/News24)

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Cabinet condemned the recent spate of protests staged on national routes around the country, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said.

Mokonyane hosted a post-Cabinet press briefing in Pretoria on Thursday to announce recent Cabinet decisions and declarations.

The recent blocking of several highways by protesters in some parts of the country was unacceptable, she said.

"Highways are a critical part of our transport infrastructure that supports the transportation of goods and services of the various sectors of the economy.

READ: Two major national routes remain closed due to protest action

"Our constitutional democracy provides for platforms wherein people can raise their issues without causing any disruptions."

Criminal acts of aggression and disruptions will not be tolerated and Cabinet would call on law enforcement to take the necessary steps, within the confines of the law, to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

"We view it as acts of economic sabotage," she said.

The same applied to recent acts of alleged sabotage by labourers at power utility Eskom in the middle of wage negotiations, she continued after a round of questions.

"There is a law in South Africa in line with the Criminal Procedure Act that deals with the destruction of public property as an act of crime.

"The destruction, even what we have seen at Eskom, must be deemed as crime. Workers have the right to protest, but nobody is entitled to destroy property.

"It is an act of economic sabotage. It is going to cost the state, so whether it is workers, whether it is communities, no one has the right to destroy property."

Protest action closes N3 and N2

Sixty-two people were arrested after truck drivers blockaded the N3 at Van Reenen's pass on Wednesday. It was reopened on Thursday.

The N2 near George was also closed on Wednesday due to service delivery protests along parts of the Garden Route.

Other incidents of road blockades this week across the country include:

- The blockaded N2 between Mtubatuba and Hluhluwe in northern KwaZulu-Natal;
- A blockade, using earthmovers, allegedly by eThekwini municipal workers at Springfield Park in Durban;
- Burning tyres restricted travel between London Road in Alexandra and Marlboro, creating heavy backlogs from the Gillooly's interchange;
- Protesters raising housing issues blocked the R59 near Meyerton, south of Johannesburg; 
- A blockade on Van Reenen's Pass between Harrismith and the Tugela Toll Plaza/Ladysmith, causing a kilometres-long tailback; and
- On Tuesday, the N2 near Cape Town was briefly closed during protests on nearby Mew Way, near Khayelitsha.

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