Atteridgeville taxi war comes to a head with arrests

Atteridgeville residents searching for suspects in a field near the main entry into the township. Police arrested 5 of the 12 suspects involved in taxi violence earlier in the day, with help from the angered residents, 29 May 2018, Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Atteridgeville residents searching for suspects in a field near the main entry into the township. Police arrested 5 of the 12 suspects involved in taxi violence earlier in the day, with help from the angered residents, 29 May 2018, Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Tshwane Metro police arrested five suspects out of a group of 12, who were charged with attempted murder, public violence and taxi violence.

Two people were arrested and five seriously injured in a minibus taxi war in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, yesterday.

This situation has left thousands of commuters stranded.

Members of the Atteridgeville Taxi Association blocked roads, burnt tyres and fired live shots at each other in a dispute over a route between the Pretoria central business district and the township.

Two people were seriously injured between Monday night and yesterday morning during the violence and are being treated at Kalafong Hospital in Pretoria.

Members of the Atteridgeville Taxi Association were seen chasing away a group of taxi drivers operating at the association’s Phomolong taxi rank. The drivers had allegedly come from KwaZulu-Natal.

Police are seen arresting one of the suspects involved in taxi violence in Atteridgeville after they fled into an open field, 29 May 2018. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The Tshwane Metro Police Department stepped in and arrested five people out of a group of 12. They were charged with attempted murder, public and taxi violence.

Tshwane Metro police senior superintendent Isaac Mahamba said the violence started on Monday night when a person was almost killed.

“He [the victim] is currently in the intensive care unit of Kalafong Hospital.

“In the early hours of yesterday [Tuesday] morning, taxi operators started blocking Maunde and Quagga streets causing huge traffic disruptions. We had to use rubber bullets to disperse the unruly crowd.

“After we dispersed the crowd, we heard that they had moved from that entrance to Maunde Street and again tried to block the main road. We received information that the two taxi associations are fighting among themselves,” Mahamba added.

He confirmed that shots were fired between the two groups while they were fighting. “We had to intervene and we arrested five suspects and they will be charged with attempted murder, public violence, taxi violence.

“We are looking for more suspects and illegal firearms. We have names and we have possible suspects that we are looking for and we will make sure we arrest them,” he said.

Atteridgeville residents are seen gathered around the main entry into the township where police are searching for some of the suspects involved in taxi violence earlier in the day, 29 May 2018, Atteridgeville, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mahamba was quick to assure the residents of Atteridgeville that the Tshwane Metro Police Department will remain on the scene in order to restore order.

“We will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands,” he said. “One person was assaulted by a community member and was rushed in a critical condition to hospital.”

By late yesterday, the taxi operators started clearing the roads.

Meanwhile, the SA National Taxi Council called an urgent meeting between their Tshwane branch and the executive of Atteridgeville Taxi Association to deal with the problem.

ALSO READ: What are the police doing about taxi turf wars?

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