Tshwane on edge amid fears of further violent protests
Pretoria - The City of Tshwane said it was aware of further disruptions likely to hit the capital city from Monday, following last week's rampant wildcat protests in which foreign-owned businesses were looted and burnt in and around the Pretoria central business district.
Acting Tshwane member of the mayoral committee for roads and transport Karen Meyer said taxi drivers were behind the planned protests.
"The decision to embark on protest action was allegedly taken at the funeral service for slain taxi driver Jabu Baloyi yesterday in Soshanguve. This is in addition to the threatened strike and protest action by truck drivers that may be experienced across the country," she said.
"Should the intended protest action proceed, it is likely that the entire city will be affected. However, specific risk areas include Menlyn and the Pretoria Central Business District, with Sunnyside in particular expected to be at the centre of disruptions. According to our information, the threatened protest action does not have the support or backing of taxi owners or associations."
Baloyi was killed during an apparent confrontation between taxi drivers and alleged drug lords in Pretoria last week. His death sparked the violence and looting of shops.
On Monday, the Tshwane municipality called on taxi owners and associations to engage their drivers in ensuring "orderly business operations" in the city.
"The local, provincial and national spheres of government are aware of the potential disruptions and are continuously engaging with the various stakeholders in the transport sectors. Law enforcement agencies are also continuously monitoring the situation and are prepared," said Meyer.
"The city condemns any criminal behaviour and will ensure that its law enforcement agencies act decisively to curb any lawlessness. Commuters are advised to monitor local media outlets for developments throughout the day and take the necessary precautions or use alternative routes to avoid road closures, traffic congestion and public transport service disruptions."
On Sunday, the South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (Satawu) distanced itself from a planned strike in the trucking industry expected to cripple several cities.
"News of a nationwide strike in the industry has been widely circulated. However, Satawu does not know the origins of the call for the strike, because none of the legitimate unions within the National Bargaining Council for Road Freight and Logistics Industry have called for it," spokesperson Zanele Sabela said.
"Consequently, we are concerned for the safety of truck drivers and urge trucking companies to be cautious, because in the past strikes called by faceless people have often resulted in gruesome attacks on truck drivers with trucks they drive set alight."
Satawu said it supported all efforts by police to stamp out attacks on the trucking industry, which were tantamount to economic sabotage.
The International Cross-border Traders' Association (ICTA) has urged the South African government to protect foreign bus and truck drivers against violence from their local counterparts who accuse the immigrants of taking their jobs.
African News Agency/ANA