The N3 highway is arguably the most policed road in South Africa. I realised this when I recently travelled the 570km connecting Johannesburg, our country’s financial nerve centre, to Durban, the busiest port in Africa and one of the major trade gateways on the continent.
All along the highway, I saw many police cars stationed at intervals while known hotspots like the Mooi River toll plaza in KwaZulu-Natal were guarded by soldiers in armoured vehicles.
I also noticed that the N3 is littered with speed and surveillance cameras. I could not shake the feeling that I was being watched and tracked from Johannesburg to Durban.
Then, while I was pondering over the high level of security on the N3, I saw something peculiar – freight truck armadas of 10 to 15 trucks, some of which were escorted by men looking like mercenaries, who appeared ready to spring into action should the cargo they were protecting come under attack. I wondered if these men had been to conflict zones like Iraq or Afghanistan.
I also drove past the burnt ruins of the Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg, a stark reminder of July’s civil unrest that resulted in shopping malls and businesses looted by rioters in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Evidence of the riots was also visible in the Durban CBD, where I saw closed shops with broken windows and a burnt-out warehouse.
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