UPDATE: Nine truck drivers arrested after protests over fuel price increases

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A truck, allegedly taken by force by taxi drivers, is parked across the N1 highway in Midrand during the taxi strike on 15 June 2017.

A truck, allegedly taken by force by taxi drivers, is parked across the N1 highway in Midrand during the taxi strike on 15 June 2017.

DURBAN – Nine people have been arrested for public violence following a protest in Durban on Wednesday morning.

Earlier, protesting motorists had blocked off the N3 in Pietermaritzburg and the N2 in Durban, near Chatsworth, demanding that petrol prices be decreased.

KZN police spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala said: “This morning truck drivers gathered and blockaded the N3 in the Pietermaritzburg area. Approximately 20 trucks parked off and blockaded the N3 freeway. All role players were summoned to the scene and the road was cleared in a short space of time. Due to the swift response by police and other role-players a total of nine suspects, eight men and one female, were arrested for public violence.”

Protesting motorists have blocked off the N3 in Pietermaritzburg and the N2 in Durban, near Chatsworth, demanding that petrol prices be decreased.

Both carriageways on the N3 in Pietermaritzburg were closed between the New England and Greytown Road intersections, while in Durban traffic on the N2 south of Durban at the Higginson Highway, which is the main road into Chatsworth, was also blocked.

 

 

More blockages are expected on the R102 near Tongaat, north of Durban.

Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday morning about the protests, Visvin Reddy of People Against Petrol and Paraffin Price Increase (Pappi), said that protest action seemed to be the only way to get the government to listen to the concerns of “the people”.

“This is obviously motorists and people who are demonstrating their anger at the rising fuel costs. This is going to get worse, it is going to escalate,” said Reddy.

While Reddy said he sympathised with the ongoing protests, Pappi was planning its own “mass scale shut down” on 27 July countrywide, which was to be “the mother of all protests”.

“Every road nationally and provincially and even small-town roads will be closed,” said Reddy.

“As you can see, there is growing anger among citizens because the effect of the fuel price increases is harming everybody. It is also affecting the poor. Food prices are going up, transport costs are going up, and salaries and wages are not going up.

 

 

Asked if the protest action would not adversely affect businesses that are being hit by the hikes, Reddy said: “There is going to be casualties”.

“Remember that the solution lies with government. Government must realise the impact that fuel price increases have on the citizens of this country. When government does things that affect people negatively, they must expect a backlash.

“We have taught the people of South Africa that if you want change, you get onto the streets and you protest. That is the only language, it seems, that the authorities understand.”

The country has experienced several sharp fuel increases in the past months, with another increase set for the end of July, burdening already strapped consumers.

In a statement on Monday, the Automobile Association of South Africa said that the recent spikes were impacting on the lives of all South Africans, “especially the poorest of the poor who rely on paraffin for heating, lighting and cooking”.

“The increases have brought the issue of fuel costs firmly into the public domain and we believe now is a good opportunity for the government to revisit the issue of the fuel levies with a view to reducing them significantly, especially as this is a cost it has control over.”