The taxi industry is not violent but was let down by the police in Rustenburg, in the North West, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) Northern Taxi Council said on Thursday.
“We are not violent people, the only thing we were engaged on was on Monday, where we stopped operation because the police had failed the industry in the sense that a driver was stabbed on 16th of December, he passed on at the hospital, we then took upon ourselves to investigate what could have led to the death of our driver we found out that people who smoke nyaope are taking over the taxi rank,” said chairperson Serame Segone.
“We engaged with them, they managed to show uswhere they get nyaope, we called on the police instead of the police arresting the perpetrator they led the perpetrator off the hook that is when the industry got angry,” he said.
He said taxi operators blocked the taxi rank with minibus taxis demanding that the police must leave the rank on Monday.
“The issue is not to fight anyone but, is to say to who ever is doing illegal operation must stop.”
At least eight guest houses were torched on Wednesday, in an attempted to smoke out drug paddlers in Rustenburg and several others were vandalised. The drive was allegedly spearheaded by taxi operators.
Buildings were torched in central Rustenburg and East end.
Segone distanced the taxi industry from Wednesday incidents saying: “The taxi industry had no business in burning houses.”
He said they would assist to identify who were behind the torching of buildings.
Ugandan national identified as Nic said his guest house was torched and other vandalised despite no drugs or prostitution operated from them.
He said it would cost him over a million rand to rebuild his guest house businesses.
“I am from Uganda, no drugs are sold in my business. I have employed six people permanently and four others on part-time basis. They are now unemployed,” he said.
He said the fire brigade did not attempt to safe his business they responded only when the fire threatened to spill over to a funeral parlour next door.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) had called for calm in Rustenburg.
“The frustrations of community members stem from their complaints falling on deaf ears and local SAPS [SA Police Service] officers colluding with alleged drug lords and other criminal elements,” said provincial leader Joe McGluwa.
He said they would write to the North West Police Commissioner, to initiate an investigation into the allegations that police in the area were working with criminals and contributing to the increase in crime rate.
“In order to stem the tide of criminality in our communities, honest and well-resourced police are needed, armed with a pro-active and responsible crime-busting programme of action. Violence will not solve the problems in the area but will only deteriorate the situation even further.”
The police remain on high alert to thwart any incident of violence at the Rustenburg taxi rank, at least nine police vehicle were spotted parked at the taxi rank.
No incident were reported and the area was calm by Thursday evening.
– African News Agency (ANA)