People burnt tyres in Vrygrond after 20 minibuses were seized by cops. Picture: ANA pictures

Cape Town - Vrygrond exploded with violent protests on Monday as residents took to the streets to vent their anger at the removal of taxis by traffic cops, and the issue of availability of land.

During the morning, large groups of rioters gathered near the taxi rank where they burned tyres and other flammable items.

There were also reports late Monday of a Pick 'n Pay liquor store being looted, but it could not be confirmed if this incident was related to the protest.

The violence follows the impounding of more than 20 minibuses in a police blitz last week and an ongoing dispute between the Vrygrond and Retreat taxi associations.

Earlier this month, members of the Retreat Taxi Association (RTA) staged a blockade at Prince George Drive, saying they would continue to block the road until illegal operators in Vrygrond were taken off the streets.

A week later, the Daily Voice witnessed City traffic cops impounding the taxis.

Over 20 unlicensed minibuses were impounded on Prince George Drive. Picture: ANA Pictures

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, says following the flare-up of tensions in the area between legal and illegal operators, Traffic Services were dispatched to the area.

“We’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation to ensure that everyone stays in their lane and to help prevent a repeat of the violence we’ve seen in the area in the past,” he says.

However, Nonkosi Fodo of the Vrygrond Community Development Forum says residents have been unable to get to work.

“The children can’t get to school, the old people can’t get to the hospital and there is also an issue about land that we want back. So we sent a memo to the City of Cape Town and that mini-mayor Eddie Andrews told us it is not a municipal competency,” she says.

VTA chairperson Makhosandile Tumana confirms that 23 of their taxis were impounded and says they have received several complaints.

He admits that only 10 VTA taxis have operating licences and says: “Now imagine how must that service all the people. Those permits don’t allow us to take people to Blue Route and Wynberg where they work so the people are angry”.

Andrews confirms he received the memo from the forum and says a feedback meeting was held with residents in June.

He explains that the provincial transport department will be mediating between the taxi associations to find a solution.

“The City will also be conducting a land audit in Vrygrond to establish which available land is owned by whom and other details,” he says.

Late Monday, Smith issued a report about the Pick 'n Pay liquor store being looted by protesters.

Fodo, however, says forum members were not responsible for the attack.

“We are at home, we only attended the protest where the residents burn tyres. It is not our members,” she says.