Fifty-four people have been arrested in KwaZulu-Natal in connection with a violent protest along the N3 freeway near the Mooi River toll plaza on Sunday night.

The suspects are expected to appear at the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court on Monday, said KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele.

Mbhele said that at around 19.30 on Sunday a group of people began throwing objects on the N3 freeway and set some trucks alight.

READ: Violent protest action causes road closure on N3 near Mooi River toll plaza

A total of 35 trucks were damaged, including those that were set alight.

“It is believed that the people who were protesting and throwing stones as well as burning objects had causing extensive damages to property.

“Local police and neighbouring police stations were mobilised and dispersed a number of people who were looting the burning trucks. A total of 54 people were arrested and will face charge of public violence,” said Mbhele.

Mbhele said the situation was calm on Monday morning although the road was still blocked due to the trucks that were burnt.

“Police are still monitoring the situation and are on high alert. Traffic is being diverted onto alternative routes for now,” said Mbhele.

According to reports, the violence was apparently in response to the employment of foreign nationals as truck drivers. 

READ: Major delays on N3 following protest near Mooi River toll plaza

KZN acting provincial commission Major General Bheki Langa condemned the incident.

“This is totally unacceptable and we will not condone people venting their anger by damaging private and public property or blockading our national roads,” Langa said.

“We will intensify our operations and ensure that those responsible face the full might of the law. Any person who blocks our national roads will be treated as an ordinary criminal and will face the full might of the law.”

Langa said people should not resort to violence to express their grievances.

The N3 Toll Concession on Twitter has urged motorists to drive safely and traffic on the N3 has been diverted to the R103.

This incident come after angry protesters barricaded the route heading toward the Mooi River toll plaza earlier this month.

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