President must deploy the SANDF to secure major routes amidst truck attacks

Agri SA is deeply concerned about the violent criminal attacks on trucks in South Africa, particularly those in KwaZulu- Natal and Mpumalanga in recent days. In addition to the threat these activities pose to lives, they are a direct assault on the South African economy and a significant risk to food security.  

Agri SA therefore calls on President Ramaphosa, who has reportedly called the attacks economic sabotage, to deploy the South African National Defence Force in support of the police to protect major transportation routes. 

In its dire economic situation, South Africa simply cannot afford to surrender vital export revenue to uncontrolled criminal activity. That is why Agri SA is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to deploy the South African National Defence Force, to secure major transportation routes until the violent attacks have ceased. Crime Intelligence must be tasked to investigate who is behind these attacks and the culprits must be charged and brought to book. 

Urgency is necessary to protect our truck drivers from acts of violence, but also to safeguard the valuable cargo they transport, which includes agricultural goods. Among the routes protected must be those which connect export harbours to main markets. 

The rampant criminality on our highways deters overseas investment. Apart from the costs caused incurred due to the destruction of the trucks, the situation also creates additional financial burdens on already cash-strapped producers who are forced to pay for more security and higher insurance premiums. Often producers also must pay penalties as a result of shipping delays. 

Intervention is particularly important for the agricultural sector. First-quarter data for 2023 shows that South Africa’s agricultural exports reached $2.9 billion while agricultural imports amounted to $1.7 billion. This net trade surplus of $1.2 billion (9% up from last year during the same period) is vital for the South African economy. 

Farmers are already dealing with a general logistics crisis caused by a failing rail network, decaying rural roads and congested ports. Violence on our county’s highways adds another level of insecurity and seriously hampering growth in our economy.

Coming after the unrest of 2021, 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 government guarantees the unhindered movement of goods and counters any attempts at economic sabotage. 

For the sake of vital livelihoods in the agricultural sector, food security across the country, and the safety of the country’s truck drivers, we hope to see immediate action from the President on this critical situation. 

Media enquiries:

Jaco Minnaar

President, Agri SA

083 626 7000

 Kulani Siweya

Chief Economist

084 018 6019