During a massive shut down at the Marianhill Toll Plaza on Friday, 12 October, People Against Petrol and Paraffin Price Increases (PAPPPI) and the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU), teamed up to stand against fuel hikes in the country.
Vehicles that were heading towards Durban in the N3 and N2 were left stranded for hours when unions affiliated to Cosatu held a legal protest against the increasing fuel and VAT prices.
Earlier this month, the Department of Energy announced the single biggest hike in fuel ever recorded in South African history bringing the price of petrol and diesel close to R17 a litre.
In his address to thousands of protestors outside the Marianhill Toll Plaza, PAPPPI founder and National Convenor, Visvin Reddy, said that the government was to blame for these exorbitant increases.
“The fuel and VAT hikes affect every South African, even if they don’t own vehicles, because public transport and food prices all go up but people’s wages don’t.
Our demand to government is simple – remove taxes and levies from the price of fuel which will see an immediate reduction of R5.30 per litre.
“This money must be recovered by introducing a wealth tax on the top 50 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). People are unaware that trillions of rands leave our country because most companies on the JSE are owned by foreigners.”
Cosatu Provincial Secretary, Edwin Mkhize, said that the workers were the hardest hit and called on the government to put an end to the fuel increases. Speaking to the protestors, Mkhize said that Sasol fuel must be made cheaper because it comes from coal and not oil.
Residents are feeling the pinch with the recent petrol hikes which are leaving them digging deep in their pockets.
A resident from Crossmoor, Mr S Pillay, said, “I’ve cut back on so much and tightened my budget but the fuel hike is literally killing us.”
Another resident from Moorton, Mrs V Moodley, hopes that something gets done about the fuel hikes. “I’m hoping that the initiative which the campaign is enduring doesn’t go in vain and government listens to our cries,” she said.
Chatsworth PAPPPI Coordinator, Sagren Naidoo, said that the protest was the first of its kind which he had never seen before. “The national roads were completely shut down and motorists understood and supported the cause. These fuel prices are killing us and we have to stand up against this grave injustice which is affecting all of us,” said Naidoo.
Reddy laughed off the government’s proposal to cap the price of 93 octane petrol which he said “illustrates how confused the authorities are about the pricing of fuel in this country”.
He said that people simply cannot ignore the price of diesel which is used mainly in public and goods transportation.
He added that capping the price of one type of fuel will hardly make any significant impact on fuel price reduction because the retail margins are very low and that government still ignores the fact that people are paying too much in fuel taxes.