Police minister Bheki Cele and senior management in KwaZulu-Natal have urgently travelled to Mooi River, where protesters were causing havoc along the N3 highway on Easter Monday morning.
Motorists had been advised to seek alternative routes as the N3, R622 and R103 had been affected by protesters, who were looting and allegedly setting trucks on fire near the Mooi River toll plaza.
Cele's spokesperson, Nonkululeko Phokane, said the minister and senior management had decided to attend to the situation after reports of looting and "chaos and disorder on the national road".
"Police operations are already underway to manage the chaotic situation in Mooi River. The public order unit of the SAPS is already on site," Phokane said.
Earlier, Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said, "There is a backlog of about six kilometres. Traffic has come to a complete stand still."
Mngomezulu said the N3 northbound had since been opened, with police attending to other routes.
Provincial spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said people from a nearby informal settlement were upset about not being employed by local trucking companies.
The N3 Toll Concession confirmed on its Twitter account that the highway had been opened going north, but southbound was still experiencing "extensive backlogs".