Maputo — The Mozambican Association of Road Transport Operators (Fematro) has claimed that lorries owned by Mozambican businesses, ferrying goods from neighbouring South Africa, have been looted and set alight by rioters demanding the release of former president Jacob Zuma, currently serving a 15 month sentence for contempt of court.
The director of FEMATRO's International Area, Costantino Jotamo, said some of the lorries were looted in the port city of Durban in KwaZulu Natal province while others were targeted in Gauteng province. No Mozambicans are reported killed or injured during the riots.
"There are trucks which have been looted and set alight, but we are still looking for more details about the incidents," Jotamo said, in a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais".
The violent street protests by Zuma supporters, joined by criminal gangs, in several parts of South Africa have had serious repercussions for carriers operating bus routes between the two countries. The tightening of Covid-19 preventive measures and the latest scenes of violence have reduced drastically the number of vehicles taking passengers to South Africa. On Tuesday, only three minibuses left Maputo for South Africa.
At the International Bus Terminal in downtown Maputo many buses are merely parked. The drivers have decided to abandon attempts to travel to South Africa since there are very few passengers willing to risk the journey. A similar scenario marks the Interprovincial Bus Terminal, where only one bus managed to leave.
"The influx of passengers is poor and the last few days have been so unkind to us," regretted Rui Muianga, who is a bus operator on the route Maputo-Johannesburg route. He declared that Mozambican travellers have not yet been attacked, but the passengers are panicking, and fear the situation may worsen in the coming days.
The violence also threatens the normal supply of fruit and vegetables for Maputo, much of which comes from South Africa. Stallholders at the Zimpeto wholesale market, the largest in the capital, fear they will soon run out of stocks.
Currently the prices charged at Zimpeto are relatively low, but this may well change unless fresh supplies arrive from South Africa, which is in doubt if truck drivers are afraid to make the journey.