Namibian truck drivers warned to be vigilant of hijackings in RSA

Erasmus Shalihaxwe

The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) has warned the Namibian transport and logistics industry of the recent hijacking incidents targeting truck drivers that have become prevalent in South Africa.

On Tuesday, WBCG chief executive officer, Mbahupu Tjivikua warned the drivers and urged them to be extra vigilant.

He referred to a recent incident that took place on the N4 route around the Rustenburg and Mafikeng areas on the Trans Kalahari Corridor.

He warned travellers to and from South Africa to be on the lookout for hijackers, who are now targeting the entire truck and its consignment, putting truck drivers at high risk of assault or even death.

“Drivers are further advised to drive in convoys and report to law enforcement officers whenever they suspect anything unusual,” he said.

Tjivikua added that truck drivers should contact the Namibian Embassy in Pretoria for assistance if they become victims of hijacking and lose their identity documents.

Petersen Kambinda, the head of the Namibian Revolutionary Transport Union, told the Windhoek Observer that they are aware of such incidents and have a WhatsApp group where they communicate safe routes with drivers whenever something happens.

“Most of the time, these things happen when there is a strike in South Africa. It is then that those striking guys take advantage of the situation and hijack truck drivers. However, through our WhatsApp groups, we advise each other which routes are safe to drive,” he said.

Kambinda added that the union has engaged truck owners and companies on safety methods to use, like right now.

He said most trucks have tracking devices and cameras.

“This enables owners to pinpoint the location of the truck at all times while the camera will be recording activities inside the truck. Sometimes the technology helps in the apprehension of culprits,” stated Kambinda.

Truck driver Palanga Ndjamba said he was hijacked last year in August along with his co-driver while they were on their way to South Africa to pick up a consignment.

He said that they were held at gunpoint by three men who took all their belongings and the truck and dumped them in the middle of nowhere when it was dark.

“I was shocked, and I couldn’t move, then one of them fired a shot right next to my head. The hijacker told us that this is a warning and that the next bullet will be in your head. I am not here for jokes. Those guys were speaking a Zimbabwean language, and I could see that had we not complied with their instructions, they would have killed us. Our truck was only discovered two days later near the border of Mozambique,” said Ndjamba.

Ndjamba added that he has been in the industry since 2012, travelling between Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia and that he has only encountered hijacking in South Africa.

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