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Rustenburg - The bail hearing of Nigerian men accused of public violence was abruptly adjourned at the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court on Friday, amid threats to set alight the court building.

Hundreds of community members, hawkers and taxi drivers marched to the court demanding that the court should not grant the accused bail and should instead send the accused back to Nigeria.

The protesters who were singing outside the court threatened to torched the court building. They accuse the suspects of selling drugs and operating brothels in Rustenburg. Some of the people in the crowd were wielding sticks.

Owing to the threats some shops shut their doors and taxi operations were also affected.

Police equipped with a water cannon were deployed to monitor the situation. 

The Nigerian nationals were arrested on January 21 after they allegedly converged on the Rustenburg police station, where they complained that they were being attacked.

A week before their arrest, taxi drivers spearheaded a "raid" on suspected brothels and drug dens. The raid was sparked by the death of a taxi driver, Lebogang Motlhabane, who was allegedly kidnapped by drug addicts and fatally stabbed.

Motlhabane had been reported missing on 15 December. The taxi driver was eventually found a bush on 27 December. Motlhabane, who had stab wounds, was taken to hospital where he succumbed ti his injuries on 3 January. 

Taxi operators blame Nigerian nationals, whom they accuse of selling drugs, for the rise in robberies, violent crime and prostitution in the area.

On Friday the situation remained calm but tense.

African News Agency/ANA