Agri SA calls for army to be deployed on key routes to stop attacks on trucks
Agri SA has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to swiftly deploy soldiers to protect key routes, especially in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, amid attacks on trucks.
At least 21 trucks have been set alight in Mpumalanga, KZN and Limpopo in four days.
The agricultural organisation said the attacks pose threats to lives, are a direct assault on the dire South African economy and a significant risk to food security.
It said the attacks worsen the general logistic crisis with which farmers are already dealing that is caused by a failing railway network, decaying rural roads and congested ports.
Agri SA president Jaco Minnaar said the country could not afford to surrender vital export revenue to uncontrolled criminal activity.
“Crime intelligence must also be tasked with investigating who is behind these attacks, and the culprits must be charged and brought to book,” he said.
Agri SA wants key routes that connect export harbours to main markets to be protected and deemed it necessary to protect truck drivers and safeguard the valuable cargo they transport, which includes food.
He said apart from the cost incurred by the destruction of trucks, the situation creates additional financial burdens on already cash-stripped producers who are forced to pay more security and insurance.
He added rampant criminality deters international investments. “Often producers also pay penalties as a result of shipping delays,” he said.
“Intervention is particularly important for the agricultural sector. First-quarter data for 2023 show that South Africa’s agricultural exports reached $2.9bn while agricultural imports amounted to $1.7bn. This net trade surplus of $1.2bn (up 9% from the same period last year) is vital for the South African economy.”
“Agri SA remains mindful of the impact that disruption to transportation can have on access to food across the country. It is therefore essential that the government guarantees the unhindered movement of goods and counters any attempts at economic sabotage,” he said.
On Wednesday while addressing the media, police minister Bheki Cele said 12 people had been identified as “persons of interest” by officers investigating the recent attacks on freight trucks.
He told the briefing in Pretoria that they had been identified by name, some of them by address and some of them by the cars they drive.
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