The unrest in the Pretoria CBD is finally over after the City of Tshwane and taxi operators reached an agreement.
Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Roads and Transport Sheila Senkubuge met with the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) and National Taxi Alliance (NTA) on Tuesday to try to resolve the impasse that prompted hundreds of taxi drivers to take to the streets last week.
News24 reported that taxi operators took to the streets after one of their drivers was shot and killed last Tuesday, after accosting an alleged drug dealer.
The taxi operators targeted alleged drug dealers, who were foreign nationals.
“Last night we had a marathon meeting, together with the taxi industry, myself as well as the taxi drivers, and we have been able to come to a resolve, and we are pleased to announce to the city and members of the public that the protest action is officially over,” Senkubuge said.
Senkubuge added that bus services would resume and thanked taxi operators and law enforcement officials for working together to find a solution.
The MMC announced that a joint steering committee would be set up, comprising the taxi industry, different City departments, Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Jacob Mamabolo, the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) and Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela.
The committee will look at ways of ridding the city of drug dealers and corrupt police officers.
Senkubuge also distanced the taxi operators from the looting and burning of foreign owned shops in the Pretoria CDB.
“It is also very important for us to reiterate from the side of the City that we do not believe that the actions from the drivers were xenophobic in their nature. The intent was to get assistance in order to clean up the drug use in the city centre as well as the sales,” Senkubuge said.
“I think it’s important that that is understood. As the City, we understand that. But we don’t believe the correct method was used. We can never encourage vigilantism and we can never encourage our citizens taking the law into their own hands. We have to leave law enforcement to the law enforcers.
“We understood that there were criminal elements that flouted the entire process and turned it into the perception of xenophobic attacks.”
In a joint statement by Santaco and NTA, read by NTA Tshwane chairperson Piet Mahlangu, the taxi associations again distanced themselves from the looting and chaos.
“As the taxi industry in operation in Tshwane, we regret and condemn the violence that has engulfed the city,” Mahlangu said.
“We remind fellow South Africans that foreign nationals are also members of South African society and are also passengers in the taxis, therefore making foreign nationals equally important as nationals.
“Consequently, we want to emphasise that the current protests and violence in the city are not at all connected to the formal structures of the taxi industry.”
“Our position regarding this is that law enforcement must be applied and these hooligans be arrested and face the full might of the law.”
Since the start of the unrest in Tshwane, violence spread to parts of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, where foreign-owned shops were looted. At least five people were killed.
In a police statement on Wednesday morning, it emerged that the number of people who were arrested increased to 289 since Sunday.
Police added that there was a significant decline in incidents of public violence and looting in Johannesburg and Tshwane.
“Last night in Ekurhuleni, a total of 100 people were arrested when police responded to several incidents of public violence and looting,” police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said.