File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Cape Town - The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Friday denounced the violent and disruptive protests by taxi drivers and owners in the Eastern Cape, saying that while protest was within their rights, violence and intimidation was not.

“We want to reiterate the point that the taxi owner/drivers have a Constitutional right to protest. However, those very rights do not imply that people must infringe on the right of movement of other people, destroy property, attack police, be violent, and intimidate others,” said police spokesperson Sibongile Soci.

The police’s condemnation follows the blocking of several roads across the province, with protesters burning tyres and rubble since early on Friday morning.

Soci said that nine suspects had been arrested in East London, three suspects in Zwelitsha, five in Bhisho, and a 40-year-old suspect in King William’s Town. Four vehicles were impounded in East London.

“All the suspects will appear in various courts soon on charges of arson, public violence, and malicious damage to property,” said Soci.

Meanwhile, acting provincial commissioner Zamuthango Mki said police would continue to monitor the situation across the province.

“In the same light, we call on all stakeholders to abide by the law and use all the relevant channels to have their grievances addressed,” said Mki.

African News Agency