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22 February 2011 at 16:18 - Posted by Anonymous

Truck driver recalls nightmare


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Malcolm Armstrong, who was attacked last week during the truck drivers strike, is slowly recovering from severe head injuries. Photo: Mujahid Safodien
Malcolm Armstrong photographed just after his delivery truck was attacked. The picture was taken by a passer-by.

They hit him with a metal pipe and struck him with rocks and stones until his skull was fractured in four places.

Malcolm Armstrong remembers nothing of the incident when a marauding mob of striking truck drivers kept assaulting him until his right eye popped out of the socket, his right cheekbone was fractured and blood poured from his head.
 
The incident took place along Pretoria Road between Jet Park and Isando in Ekurhuleni.
 
The 35-year-old spent five days in the intensive care unit at Arwyp Hospital in Kempton Park. His parents, Wally and Anita, worried that they might lose their only child.
 
“When we saw him at casualty, we were devastated. He was full of blood on his head, and the bandage he had was covered with blood. His eye had popped out and was swollen… it was terrible,” Anita recalled yesterday.
 
Now Armstrong is back home. His right eye is bloodshot, there are two stitches on his head and he has two black eyes. He has lost his short-term memory.
 
The truck he had rented out to do his deliveries will need R40 000 to repair the damage caused by the strikers.
 
Even though he received the most gruesome beating, Armstrong showed no bitterness and managed to crack a joke.
 
“I was really tired that day and just wanted to sleep. Well, I got to sleep for the whole week – not the way I intended,” he said.
 
Armstrong did not remember the attack or how it happened. All he could recall was how tired he had been that day.
 
“The stuff we had to offload was so flipping heavy and I remember moaning to the other guy I was with. I was complaining that I did not need that gym workout. And then, when we got near the Isando station, I said to him ‘we got s***’. That is all I remember.”
 
Striking truck drivers in red shirts pulled Armstrong out of the truck, assaulted him and damaged the vehicle. His petrified colleague managed to flee and got a passing motorist to help Armstrong.
 
At the time of the attack, Armstrong had been with E3 Logistics, where he is an operating partner, for only two weeks.
 
“You can say that I started off with a bang,” he laughed.
 
Armstrong said the violence that was part of striking workers was worrying. He said he understood that they were not happy and wanted more money, but that it was not necessary to harm others or vandalise trucks. “I hear that they burnt trucks and shot at some drivers. Why? They still did not even get their increase. Some people have been asking me why I did not drive over them but how could I have driven, over people with a 4-ton truck?” he asked.
 
Dawie Roodt, chief economist at the Efficient Group, agreed that the violence was worrying.
 
“I have spoken to local and international investors and they are concerned about the militancy of our labour force. South Africa will cease to be attractive to investors,” he said. - The Star
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