Black drivers claim unjust treatment

Petrol tanker drivers contracted to deliver fuel in Limpopo claim they have been subjected to inhumane conditions at an Engen depot.

They alleged depot management in Mokopane displayed racism. The truck drivers, employed by various companies to transport petrol and diesel from Watloo in Pretoria on a daily basis, said they were refused the right to use ablution facilities at the depot.

They said they spend days awaiting their turn to off-load fuel, sleeping inside their trucks.

They also claimed management refused them permission to use the facilities "without providing reasons".

Sowetan visited the depot on Thursday and found women drivers experiencing the same problem.

Patrick Napo, who has been delivering fuel to the depot for seven years, said the treatment they received was an injustice.

"We usually carry our stuff to bathe, but management at this depot is refusing us permission to use their facilities. We believe the decision has to do with racism," said the 33-year-old man.

"I feel pity for the women as some of them have to change pads. And they cannot do that inside the trucks," he said.

Another driver, Lucky Mokoena, said they were treated inhumanely.

"The conditions at this depot are inhumane. The management here is denying us our basic human rights."

The 40-year-old said they spent days at the depot without water.

A female driver, who refused to disclose her name, confirmed she had not bathed for two days since arriving at the depot.

"It's true that we are not allowed to use the sanitation facilities inside the depot, but we have not been given reasons for the decision," she said.

A white man, identified as a deputy manager of the depot, refused to be interviewed by Sowetan.

Engen spokesman Gavin Smith said he was not aware of the existence of inhumane treatment of truck drivers .

"We will investigate the allegations. As a company we are not practising any racism and will act against any of our employees who may be found to be practising such."

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