Further violence mars truckers’ strike

A trucker whose vehicle was burned near the Irene train station on Thursday was called a “sell-out” by his attackers.

Honey Magomola said he was driving along Botha Avenue when about 40 striking workers allegedly emerged from the bushes and forced him off the road.

He stopped the vehicle and ran towards a police station nearby.

“The important thing was I had to duck for my life,” he said.

He said his attackers accused him of being a “sell-out”.

A truck behind Magomola was also attacked but the driver managed to escape.

Other truck drivers saw the attacks, made U-turns and reversed to avoid suffering the same fate.

“We saved a lot of trucks,” Magomola said.

Magomola’s truck and the other was stoned, looted and burned near the Irene train station in Tshwane.

Pretoria police spokesperson Warrant Officer Duane Lightfoot said the strikers arrived at the Irene train station and went to Botha Avenue where they forced the two trucks off the road and looted them.

They then set the vehicles on fire.

Arrests
Police arrested 28 people who were taken to the Lyttelton police station. They would be charged with arson and attempted murder and were due to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court soon.

Lightfoot said police were stepping up their presence around the train stations because they believed striking workers were using the trains to commute, whereby they could get out, attack truckers and then get back on the train.

Earlier, along Botha Avenue as the two trucks burned, police fanned out in a nearby field looking for the perpetrators.

A police helicopter hovered overhead as heavily armed police officers scoured the area.

One truck was valued at R1,2-million and the other at R500 000, police estimated.

The goods they were carrying — tile adhesive in one and yeast in the other — were valued at about R380 000.

Meanwhile, a commuter at the Irene train station was beaten, allegedly by striking workers. He was also robbed.

The man said he pleaded with his attackers, telling them that he was not a truck driver when they asked him why he was going to work.

No settlement reached
No settlement had been reached after talks between unions and the Road Freight Employers’ Association (RFEA) on Wednesday.

The strike, of about 65 000 workers according to the unions, has thus far been marred by violence and intimidation.

The strike began with a go-slow on Sunday, but workers across the country downed tools on Monday. The unions — the Transport and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa, the Professional Transport Workers’ Union, the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, and the Motor Transport Workers’ Union — are demanding a 10% increase for 2011 and 10% for 2012.

The RFEA upped its offer of 7,5% for each of the two years and on Wednesday upped its offer to 8% across the board and 9% for cash-in-transit guards.

Unions were expected to meet with RFEA representatives again on Thursday

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By theunderground411 Posted in News

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