Truckers working in fear

2019-05-28 16:39
A truck burns on the N3 near the Hilton on-ramp. Tt is suspected that someone threw petrol on the truck and lit it after the truck broke down. No one was injured. PHOTO: SEWRAJ GIRDHURPARSADH (WHATSAPP)

A truck burns on the N3 near the Hilton on-ramp. Tt is suspected that someone threw petrol on the truck and lit it after the truck broke down. No one was injured. PHOTO: SEWRAJ GIRDHURPARSADH (WHATSAPP)

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Trucking companies say they are working in fear, especially after five trucks were torched between Cliffdale and Hilton on Sunday evening.

The first incident occurred at Camperdown and involved two Phumaphambili Trucks.

Phumaphambili Truck’s Mohammad Paruk said the cause of the fire would be investigated by police but that both his drivers escaped without injury during the ordeal.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the truck drivers were parked at Cato Ridge at around 5 pm near the railway line when two armed men forced them out of their trucks at gunpoint. The assailants set the two trucks alight and fled on foot.

She said police are investigating charges of malicious damage to property.

At around 8.30 pm on Sunday, another truck was set alight at the Hilton on-ramp opposite Life Hilton Hospital.

Gwala said a case of malicious damage to property is being investigated after the truck broke down at the side of the road.

“While he was waiting for a mechanic he heard a sound coming from the truck and [saw] that both the truck and trailer had caught fire.

“It is suspected that an unknown substance was thrown onto the truck. The driver was not injured.”

Hilton community members took to their WhatsApp group after hearing the truck exploding.

It had been transporting asphalt.

People reported on the group that they heard loud bangs, and asked desperately for news about the truck driver’s well-being. Videos of the burning truck were posted on the Hilton Happy Chatters group as it happened.

KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said it took firefighters over an hour to extinguish the blaze.

The last two incidents occurred at Cliffdale, however, police say they have no reports of the incidents.

SA Inland Logistics’ Roland Naidoo said two brand new trucks were attacked at Cliffdale but quick thinking by one of the drivers saved the trucks from being burned completely.

“We were very lucky. Our drivers were proactive and used the fire extinguisher as soon as they saw the trucks alight and managed to put the fire out with the help of Joey’s Towing,” said Naidoo.

“Both the trucks were only a week old and cost around R2 million each,” he said.“ We are very lucky there was no extensive damage to the trucks and that our drivers were so brave and were not injured.”

Naidoo said the incident was “an act of terrorism” as he felt the aim was to instil fear into the trucking companies and their drivers. The driver, who asked not to be named out of fear for his safety, said he started driving for the company in January this year.

He said he and a colleague were travelling in convoy from Johannesburg to Durban when his colleague’s truck broke down on the middle lane of the N3 at Cliffdale. He said he stopped his truck at the roadside and went to help his colleague redirect traffic as it was after 9 pm.

“My colleague saw men run out of nearby bushes and throw something onto the tyres of my truck.”

He said as he saw the truck catch fire he ran to it and brought out the extinguisher. The unknown attackers did the same with the other truck while the drivers were busy with the first truck.

“We had to think quickly and do what we could to put the fires out. Luckily Joey’s Towing was nearby to help us.”

The driver said he was “all right” after the incident and would be resting at his home in Durban yesterday and today.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  trucks burnt

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