Durban - Five people were arrested during a march in central Durban by the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance (KZNTA) on Wednesday, police said.
“We are charging them with public violence and malicious damage to property,” Colonel Jay Naicker said.
“There were cases reported of vehicles being damaged and shops being damaged.”
Earlier, police had used teargas and stun grenades on the 300-strong crowd.
The KZNTA delivered a memorandum to the city's mayor James Nxumalo at the Durban City hall. He was surrounded by heavily armed security officers.
The alliance members then marched from the hall to Pixley ka Seme Street (formerly West Street).
Stun grenades and teargas were released as police officers chased after groups of taxi drivers taking part in the strike. It was not clear what caused the chaos.
A number of taxi drivers had hammers, sticks, and clubs in their possession.
All the shops in the street were closed.
The marchers dispersed by late afternoon, leaving stones and rocks lying around.
Transport MEC Willies Mchunu cautioned taxi operators against being used to pursue political agendas.
The group was apparently calling for Mchunu to step down.
“This administration has not even finished one month in office and you already have people calling on the MEC to step down,” Mchunu said.
“The logical conclusion we can reach is that, this is nothing but politicking.”
Taxi operators were protesting about routes, the issue of operating licences, laws being in English, and the alliance feeling “shut out” by the municipality, among other things.
The eThekwini municipality said the province was working on moving the licensing function to the city.
The laws being in English was not an issue as officials always explained matters to drivers in their preferred language, she said.
She said drivers who were charged were given the opportunity to go to court and challenge fines in their own language.
Claims that the city was shutting the alliance out were “unfounded and a misrepresentation of facts”.
On February 14, the municipality signed a memorandum of agreement with the taxi industry, she said.