Chaos ensued in Pretoria CBD as taxi operators continued their operation to root out drug dealers in the City. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi /African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - Seventeen people have been arrested following a chaotic protest that turned violent in the Pretoria CBD on Wednesday, Gauteng police confirmed.

Earlier, traffic came to a standstill in the capital city after taxi drivers blockaded several roads in protest against the shooting of a fellow driver. 

The taxi drivers had confronted alleged drug dealers and buyers near Bloed Street Mall. The two have been at loggerheads for a while. 

After the shooting, allegedly at the hands of the drug dealers, chaos ensued as shops were looted and burned down, forcing police to use rubber bullets to restore calm.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mmathapelo Peters said Public Transport and Roads Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo and Gauteng top cop Lieutenant General Elias Mawela met with the City of Tshwane as well as representatives of the taxi industry following Wednesday's chaos.

"The taxi industry representatives tabled their concerns and raised what both the MEC and Provincial Commissioner believe are genuine concerns, which require urgent attention to ensure safety and security within the space in which they operate.

"The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Tshwane Metro Police Department have since intensified deployments and will maintain a presence in the CBD to ensure that no further incidents of criminality recur. 

Peters confirmed that 10 suspects have since been arrested for possession of suspected stolen property, while 7 have been arrested for public violence.

The taxi industry meanwhile distanced itself from the looting and reiterated that there was no aggression on their part. 

Mack Makata of Santaco said: "We had planned for a demonstration to highlight some of our issues with the shooting of one of us, and we believe some criminal elements took advantage and exploited our plan to advance their criminal intent.

Mamabolo has since extended his condolences to the family and colleagues of the taxi operator that was fatally shot on Tuesday evening, and urged the police to prioritise the investigation of the murder case so that the suspect can be found and taken to task.

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