By Thupeyo Muleya
A 38-year-old Malawian truck driver who was recently shot in the head by two armed robbers while waiting for his chance to enter the South African border succumbed to the wounds on Friday afternoon at Polokwane General Hospital.
Two unknown gunmen pounced on Robert Sakala’s vehicle along the N1 Highway on March 29.
Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said they were yet to make any arrests.
He said anyone with information about the suspects should contact the Musina Station Commander Colonel Mukwevho on 002782 759 4931 or the Crime Stop number 0027860010111.
“The truck driver succumbed to gunshot injuries in a Polokwane hospital on Friday afternoon,” said Brig Mojapelo. “The case has now been changed from attempted murder to murder. Robert Sakala (38), was a driver of a white Power Star truck with registration numbers JB 21 XJ GP.”
The police in Musina are investigating the matter and are appealing for information that may assist in tracing the two suspects who allegedly shot the truck driver and robbed him of an undisclosed amount of money as well as a cell phone along the N1 road next to the weighbridge.
Brig Mojapelo said the two men, one armed with a firearm, allegedly arrived at the truck and suddenly demanded money from Sakala.
He said the duo then shot and robbed him, and thereafter fled into the bushes.
The matter, he said, was immediately reported to the police, and Sakala was taken to Musina hospital for medical treatment, where he was referred to Polokwane for further management.
Truck drivers are now spending relatively more time in queues on both the Zimbabwean and South African components of the border.
The state of affairs has also seen criminals targeting the freight/cargo movers at night robbing them of money and mainly cellular phones.
According to authorities in both countries, the volume of commercial trucks using Beitbridge started to increase late last year with transporters now avoiding the Botswana transit route due to strict Covid-19 screening measures.
As a result, the truckers who used to cross from Zambia, Malawi, Angola, and DRC to South Africa through Groblersbrug Border are now using Beitbridge.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said recently that in December 2019, 6 706 trucks went through Groblersbrug compared to 2 968 trucks last year during the same period.
“This means only 45 percent of the total number of trucks processed last year went through Groblersbrug. In contrast, 19 800 trucks went through Beitbridge in December 2019, compared to 21 800 by December 27, 2020,” he said.
“A simple analysis will show that Groblersbrug had 3 738 fewer trucks last year compared to 2019, and at least 2000 of these trucks found their way to Beitbridge, hence the congestion.”
Through the Inter-border Agencies, Zimbabwe and South Africa have been giving priority clearance to critical cargo to decongest the borders.
Under the current Covid19 regulations in Zimbabwe and South Africa, commercial truck drivers should have clearance certificates valid for 30 days, while those using light commercial vehicles (rigid trucks) must retest after every 14 days. The Herald