Residents and travellers in Pretoria central have been urged to remain vigilant, and to be wary of criminal activities amid a spate of wildcat protests.
Police said over the last few weeks, different protests were witnessed in the city, with some of the demonstrations posing threats to businesses and other institutions operating in the city centre.
Newly-appointed station commander at Pretoria central police station, Brigadier Hlengane Gibin Mashaba appealed to community members across the expansive precinct of the city centre to be wary of criminal activities.
“During the week, municipal trucks were torched and the station is seeking all petrol stations to halt selling both diesel and petrol to customers with containers or any object besides pouring the fuel directly into motor vehicles,” said Pretoria central police spokesperson Constable Thabang Nkhumise.
“Furthermore, all units and patrol vehicles within the South African Police Service and other security entities are to strengthen their visibility, to ensure that garages (filling stations) abide by the message.”
The police said they have observed the trend of municipal vehicles used for service delivery being targeted.
“Seemingly the people who are burning municipal trucks are using the same modus operandi to fulfil their sinister plans and to distract service delivery within the municipality,” said Nkhumise.
“An ongoing investigation is taking place and we urge the community to come forth and report any illegal activities and they can do it anonymously on our Crime Stop hotline 086-001-0111, by dialling 112 or directly contact the police station on 012-353-4000.
“Be conscious and have zero tolerance towards criminal activities,” he said.
Last week, Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink said the long-running strike by municipal workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which has crippled service delivery across Tshwane, has been hijacked by organised crime.
Tons of uncollected rubbish continued to mount at several points in the city centre, in suburbs and in different townships across Tshwane.
“I think the strike has been hijacked by organised crime. I think there are economic and political considerations that drive the strike now. I don’t think it is in the hands of any one union factional leader, and that is why we have made the point that it is no longer a labour dispute, it is an issue of the rule of law,” Brink told journalists.
“Earlier, before I came here I spoke to the Minister of Police and I said to him we really need top class crime intelligence to intercept calls and messages to see who is planning this. You have seen the attacks on the waste trucks, the attacks on vehicles. It is very well coordinated, it is tactical, the folks plan it in advance and they have inside information about this city,” he said.
Pretoria News reported that the striking municipal workers in the City of Tshwane have been accused of torching two municipal vehicles in Pretoria West.
Municipal spokesperson Selby Bokaba confirmed the torching of two of the City’s vehicles.
“They were torched outside the Princess Park Depot along Nana Sita (westbound), Charlotte Maxeke and Es’kia Mphahlele streets,” he said.
The water truck that belonged to the city had just drawn water from the depot for delivery at some Region 4 informal settlements when it was set alight.
“The driver was physically assaulted and managed to escape. Fortunately, he didn’t sustain serious injuries,” he said.
The bakkie that was also torched at the same precinct as the truck, belongs to the City’s Asset Protection Monitoring Unit.
“Two members were injured and taken to hospital. The members are responsible for the protection of the City’s assets, such as the depots and substations. At the time of their ambush they were busy monitoring the depots,” Bokaba said.
The incidents came after two refuse trucks were recently set alight, allegedly by striking workers while a municipal employee was attacked after reporting for duty.
Bokaba said seven employees at Tshwane Bus Services (TBS) were served with intended letters of dismissal for supporting the strike action, which has been declared unlawful and unprotected by the Labour Court.