MBABANE. Today Business Eswatini approached the South African High Commission to highlight concerns regarding vehicle hijackings reportedly being encounted by emaSwati when traversing in South Africa. According to BE’s submissions to the High Commissioner, the situation had now reached concerning levels to the extent that it could begin to impact on trade and tourism traffic flows between the two countries.
BE further stated that they had decided to approach the High Commission largely because of the good assistance they had received in 2021 when Emaswati trucks were being torched or vandalized in South Africa. This publication was informed that the High Commissioner had responded swiftly to BE’s request by reporting the matter to the rightful authorities in South Africa, including the SA Police Service (SAPS); and within a matter of days the situation had begun to improve. It is for this reason that BE decided to again report on developments regarding possible hijackings to the Commission.
Her Excellency Thoko Majokweni-Sipamla the High Commissioner to South Africa in Eswatini warmly welcomed the BE and listened to their presentation with understanding and compassion. She then stated that this issue was not new to her and stressed that the South African authorities were doing everything they could to address the matter. It was noted that there are unscrupulous hijackers in SA who seem to have found a market for cross-border stolen vehicles. She further shared that the hijackers were not exclusively South African and they included criminals from across the region and that certain popular brands of vehicles were being targeted.
Her Excellency further refuted the view that it was only Emaswatis’ cars being targeted. Much to the contrary, she said everyone, including South Africans themselves, were victims to these crimes. While the High Commissioner will escalate the matter further, she did however reveal that the police in South Africa were already working tirelessly on the issue. She went on to stress that motorists when travelling in the region should remain vigilant.
TRUCK CONGESTION ISSUE AT THE OSHOEK BORDER POST
As part of the meeting with the High Commissioner of South Africa in Eswatini, Business Eswatini also had tagged on the meeting agenda the issue of truck congestion at the Oshoek border, which was said to be a matter of equal importance. BE stated that the truck congestion issue had come to their attention through their members in the hospitality industry and this call then propelled BE to quickly bring this to the attention of the High Commission for assistance.
BE indicated that the ease of cross border trade is a very critical element to driving the economy towards recovery, especially considering that South Africa is our largest trade partner. The Business Eswatini CEO Mr E. Nathi Dlamini also stated that once there is are disruptions in supply chain logistics there will be a knock-on effect on the cost and ease of doing business in the country. Business Eswatini also highlighted in the meeting that as a matter of importance, trading partners should seek to rid the system of any artificial hurdles that may cause unnecessary delays so as to exploit the economic benefits that this coming shopping season will offer. The congestion at the border is caused by various issues including the lack of sufficient lighting on the Oshoek side of the border; which then compels truck drivers to bundle up closer to the main entrance gate. There have been some issues of pilferage for some who were parked further from the gate, where there is no adequate lighting. Additional lighting might be a solution. The High Commissioner then advised there are certain bilateral institutions whose task it is to look at issues affecting both trading partners especially at border posts. The challenge surrounding the lighting at the border post would be mentioned to the relevant authorities in South Africa.