KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Brigadier Jay Necker said on Friday that many truck drivers had stopped their trucks along the N3 highway and blocked both roads.
Then they got out of their cars causing traffic to stop all day.
“The suspects seized the keys to some trucks and kept them fixed for a long time,” Necker said.
He said specialized units from across the province were mobilized and helped to get trucks off the highway which led to traffic starting to flow again over the weekend.
Necker said 12 truck drivers were arrested, as their vehicles obstructed traffic and defied instructions from police officials to move their trucks.
“Detectives from the Provincial Investigation Unit took charge of the investigation at the scene and the suspects were charged with violation of the Criminal Code Amendment Act – infrastructure violation, intimidation, economic sabotage, as well as violation of the Road Traffic Act.”
Friday’s blockade extended along national roads from the port of Durban to Tugela Plaza and beyond.
2021-12-03, N3 motorway closed with trucks, Van Rennen Pass. pic.twitter.com/886RL9fFRl
– Malandela’s granddaughter (@gwaza_zn) December 3, 2021
In November, about 30 drivers blocked both sides of the N3 with trucks, and the vehicles were backed for more than a kilometer.
Economist Mike Schusler said the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement that talks about the free movement of goods and people is dead.
“Other Africans look at SA and see that we are devastated and prove once again that we think we are better but when we have to do things we do too little,” he said.
It also hurts business and investment confidence in the country, he said.
“Over time these were definitely billions of dollars for the industry, but it was billions more for the country because we delayed exports and production,” he said. Scheusler said about 3 billion rand worth of goods were moved on the N3 and N11 each day.
“So a one-day protest stops traffic delays of 3 billion rand, but the cost is probably 100 million rand at scale, but in a day or so, we take more,” he said.
Economist Pete Crokamp said the significance of what happened in the Plaza was that it created mistrust in the country’s logistical capacity. “The market economy is based on the principle of trust and confidence that you will provide goods and services at a certain time,” he said.
Crocamp added that political or social turmoil had damaged the market economy and was one of the reasons why the country was struggling to get international investment.